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A 62-year-old man has been found guilty of mistreating more than a dozen horses in Meade County between September 2016 and January.

LeRoy James of Hermosa was convicted Nov. 2 on three misdemeanor counts of neglect, abandonment or mistreatment of an animal during a four-day trial that started Oct. 30.

The Meade County State's Attorney's Office charged James with inhumanely treating 16 horses under his care, including a mare that had died and a foal named “Honey,” according to court records. They were being kept in a rural property southeast of Sturgis, referred to in documents as the McFarland property.

Some of the horses were found running loose in March after the animals broke down their pen in search of food and water, reads a sheriff’s deputy report filed in court.

James denied any wrongdoing, stating at trial that he tried to feed the horses as much as he could and hired others to help out, said county State’s Attorney Kevin Krull.

James is facing a penalty of up to three years in county jail and a $6,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21 by 4th Circuit Magistrate Judge Francy Foral. He is out of jail on bond.

The horses are still with James since he remains their official owner, said Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin. The sentencing hearing, Merwin said, might provide more clarification as to their future care.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal from February 2016 to July 2018. Contact her on Facebook or Twitter @tiffgtan.