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Killington man denies charges of animal cruelty

Posted on Nov 8, 2007 - 2:41 PM
Rutland Herald

Article published Nov 6, 2007
Killington man denies charges of animal cruelty

By Alan J. Keays Herald Staff

A Killington man has pleaded innocent to several charges of animal cruelty after police said they found dead geese, pigs, sheep, chickens, a rabbit and a turkey in his barn.

Roger I. Neil, 51, entered his innocent plea Monday in Rutland District Court to seven misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. He was released on conditions.
Each charge carries a possible maximum penalty of one year in jail, if convicted.
Peter Langrock, Neil’s attorney, said his client strongly denied that he abused any animals.

“We don’t believe that there’s any basis for the cruelty charge. Roger Neil has never been cruel to an animal in his life,” Langrock said. “There was a confluence of events, which caused a rather unhappy situation and that’s been cleared up and we’re working toward cleaning up the whole matter.”

Vermont State Police said the investigation began in mid-August when Neil’s estranged wife contacted authorities and reported that Neil had let numerous farm animals die as a result of neglect on his property in Killington.

Police said when they went to the property Neil consented to a search of the barn behind the residence.

“(Neil) advised he had chickens that had been eaten by a fisher cat and several others died as a result of disease over the winter. He advised he didn’t have a chance to bury the animals and would clean them up,” Trooper Thomas Mozzer wrote in an affidavit. “During the conversation, (Neil) advised the cold may have gotten to the animals resulting in their death.”

The trooper wrote that in the barn he found the floor covered in about 3 inches of feces and hay. He said in the barn he found numerous dead animals, including several chickens, four geese, a turkey, a pig, three sheep, and a rabbit.

The trooper wrote that an animal health specialist with the state Department of Agriculture reviewed photos taken of the dead animals in the barn. The official reported if the animals had been killed by a predator, they likely would have been eaten or removed from the barn, the affidavit stated.

Mozzer wrote when he talked to Neil again, Neil told him he did provide the animals with food and water throughout the winter. Neil also said he started “losing the animals” the last week in February or the first week in March, the affidavit stated.

“He stated he didn’t believe the animals died from lack of water or food, however, did acknowledge the animals could have died from the cold weather,” according to the affidavit. “(Neil) advised he never contacted a veterinarian, but probably should have.”

Langrock said Monday Neil kept the dead animals in the barn because he couldn’t bury them in the winter.

“We’re not sure what the cause of death is of the animals, but neither is the state,” the defense attorney added.

Contact Alan J. Keays at alan.keays@rutlandherald.com.


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