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Woman is fined in case of three stabbed horses

March 11, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Martinsburg, W.Va. - All but one of the charges filed against a Martinsburg woman in connection with a case involving three horses that had been stabbed were dismissed Tuesday when a plea bargain was reached.

Julie Corbin Creswell, 44, pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals in Berkeley County Circuit Court. She was ordered to pay a $250 fine and $120 in court costs.

No jail time was imposed and seven other charges filed against Creswell - three felony counts of malicious maiming of an animal, one felony count of conspiracy to commit malicious wounding of an animal and three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals - were dismissed.

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Bradford J. Hall, 54, of Conservation Drive in Hedgesville, W.Va. - the man investigators allege stabbed the horses - is scheduled to appear in Berkeley County Magistrate Court today for a preliminary hearing.

Court records allege that Creswell drove Hall to a boarding stable on Thatcher Road outside of Martinsburg and waited while Hall stabbed the horses.

Two of the horses, CJ and Keeper, belonged to Hall's former wife, from whom he was legally separated at the time. The third horse, a breeding stock mare that was not as seriously injured, belonged to David Greenfield, a friend of Freeman's, records state.

Assistant Prosecutor Betsy Giggenbach, who is handling both cases, could not predict what will happen during Hall's hearing.

"I reached a plea (in Creswell's case) based upon the sufficiency of the evidence," Giggenbach said Wednesday. She declined to comment further, citing the hearing set for today.

Katherine Freeman, Hall's ex-wife, said she was dismayed to hear of the plea bargain.

"I just don't think it's fair for the horses and I don't think it's fair for people from our community," said Freeman, who plans to attend today's hearing. "I just want to get justice for all the pain my animals went through."

Freeman said she sent a letter to officials with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to update them on the case. In December, after Hall and Creswell were charged, PETA sent a letter to Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely, asking that she "vigorously prosecute" the case.

Freeman said the two horses were very shy around people after the stabbing, which happened on Nov. 27, 2002. They have since become less skittish and one of the mares is set to give birth in about a month, she said.

Although Freeman initially believed the horses had been shot, a veterinarian later determined that they had been stabbed in the lower rib area.

Hall and Creswell initially were charged Dec. 1, 2003. Additional charges were filed against Creswell on Dec. 18.

Hall faces three felony counts of malicious maiming of an animal, one felony count of conspiracy to commit malicious maiming of an animal, three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals.

Berkeley County Animal Control Officer J.W. Ramos, who investigated the case, said he interviewed a man who said that Hall bragged to him about stabbing the horses. That man said Hall told him that he called each horse over to him before stabbing them in the abdomen, Ramos said. Other horses in the same pasture were not harmed, Ramos said in court records.

When Ramos spoke to Creswell, she said that Hall was drunk and talked about getting back at his wife by hurting her horses, records state.

Creswell drove Hall to the farm and, at his request, returned 20 minutes later, records state. When she returned, Hall said "I got them," Ramos said. After driving around for a while, Hall gave Creswell a knife wrapped in cloth and drove to a bridge over Back Creek, records state. Creswell told police that she threw the knife from the car window, records allege.

Conviction on a charge of malicious maiming of an animal carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison. Conviction of a charge of animal cruelty carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.

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