Update: Judge Hands Down Guilty Verdicts in Peaceable Farm Case
An Orange County judge finds Anne Shumate Williams, the former owner of a horse rescue farm, guilty on 22 counts of animal cruelty.
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An Orange County judge finds Anne Shumate Williams, the former owner of a horse rescue farm, guilty on multiple counts related to animal cruelty.
The Orange General District Court judge handed down his verdicts around 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, November 1. He ruled that 59-year-old Shumate Williams (aka Anne Goland) is guilty of 22 counts of cruelty to animals – for nine horses, two dogs, 10 cats, and one chicken - and three charges of inadequate care – for three dogs.
The judge sentenced Shumate Williams to 18-months active jail time, though she will only serve nine months because the charges are misdemeanors. The prosecution was recommending she serve six-and-a-half years in jail and be banned from owning companion animals and horses.
Williams' attorney said they will be appealing the convictions.
Attorneys on both sides had completed closing arguments around 3 p.m., the second day of the bench trial. The judge had said he needed to read the law involving the charges and review evidence before he made his verdict.
The prosecution had argued that the animals at Peaceable Farm “were counting on [Shumate Williams] for basics they needed to live, and she left them starving in dirty conditions.”
Defense attorneys had claimed that there was no evidence proving the time frame the animals were in Shumate Williams’ care, and that the horses were in bad shape before they arrived at the Somerset property. The defense had asked nearly every witness whether they knew how the animals were cared for before they came to Peaceable Farm, and they all replied no.
The first day of the trial included testimony from veterinarians, a horse trainer, and graphic video from investigators inside Shumate Williams' home on the farm. The body camera footage showed animal waste, dead and decaying cats, dogs, and chickens. Skeletal remains could also be seen on the floors.
Authorities discovered over a hundred animals, many of which reportedly showed signs of neglect, on the property during a raid conducted on October 19, 2015. Shumate Williams eventually surrendered over 80 horses, 28 cats, and 7 dogs over the course of a few days.
Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue in Afton, Va. had taken in 29 horses from Peaceable Farm. NBC29 reported on November 24, 2015, that five of those horses died.
The prosecution argued that Shumate Williams “had the capacity” to provide adequate care for animals but “she just didn’t do it.”
The defense had a psychologist testify that their client suffered from moderate to severe depression at the time investigators raided Peaceable Farm. The witness believed a divorce had left Shumate Williams feeling her ex-husband abandoned her and her animals.
The psychologist also said the defendant showed remorse, and is devastated that she could have caused so much harm to her animals.
Shumate Williams is also facing 13 felonious counts of embezzlement in a separate case. Investigators believe she took funds that were meant for Peaceable Farm, which was operating as a nonprofit.
Williams and her attorney are expected to be back in circuit court on November 27.