Orange County prosecutors made their case for seizing horses from a Somerset farm Wednesday.
Fifty-seven-year-old Anne Goland, who also goes by Anne Shumate Williams, is still facing 27 animal cruelty charges.
Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m., but the court was so backed up it just got started around 4:00 p.m.
A judge decided that 10 of the horses belonging to Goland can be seized by the county, and that they were correct in doing so.
Goland owns the Somerset property where the sheriff's office discovered several dead horses and more than 100 living horses, as well as dozens of other animals.
An animal control deputy testified she visited Peaceable Farm after receiving calls from people concerned about the horses before that October raid. She says she was denied access to the farm during her visit in May.
The deputy testified that when they returned with veterinarians last month, they found an "overwhelming number of horses in various stages of starvation".
A veterinarian from Keswick Equine Clinic testified she examined more than 60 horses from Peaceable Farm. Of those, she determined only six were healthy enough to stay at the property.
The veterinarian went through each of the 10 horses involved in the day's hearing, describing emaciated and weak horses in need of immediate care. She believes none of them would have survived another week under Goland's care at the farm.
“The law has a direct and immediate threat to life, safety, or health. When we make a determination to seize, we need to know that the animal actually is going to die if we don't take it,” said Diana O'Connell, the Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney.
The court did not set a date for Goland's trial on those animal cruelty charges. After three hours of testimony Goland left the courthouse with her attorney who says they will use the testimony that emerged from this hearing to help build her defense.
“Then we can make a better choice on how to proceed which will very likely include an appeal,” said Thomas Purcell, Goland's Attorney.
One woman, Jean Thornton sent her 23-year-old horse, Conversano II Aloha II Owner into retirement at Peaceable Farm, Thornton made the trip from florida to hear testimony in Wednesdays hearing case. The stallion she called Lou was an award-winning performer.
“I trained him all the way from the beginning all the way to the highest level of dressage which is called Grand Prix,” Thornton said. She added that Goland promised the greatest care for her horse.
“I just wanted him to have an easy life,” she said. She went on and on about all the experience she had.
“I believe that when she moved the horse to Virginia, she probably locked him in a stall and never fed him again."
Thornton said that she would make her mission in life creating a federal law that will show people convicted of animal cruelty.
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