Pearce sentenced for death of 4 horses

Shannon Pearce, left, sits next to his attorney, John Kormanik, just before verdicts are read on Nov. 14, 2019. Jurors found Pearce guilty on four counts of cruelty to animals.

PAYETTE — Following a pre-sentencing motion, a Payette County man was sentenced to a short stint in jail, work crew and probation after being found responsible for the deaths of four horses in 2018.

With the court withholding judgement, Ivan Shannon Pearce, born in 1955, will spend one day in jail, followed by 29 days of work crew and will be in probation until February 2022. There is a suspended 120 days on jail that Pearce could serve if he violates his probation.

He was found guilty by a jury on four misdemeanor counts of causing cruelty to animals on Nov. 14.

With judgement withheld, Pearce can ask for the charges to be removed from his record after successfully fulfilling his sentencing.

Four horses were found dead from dehydration around Pearce’s New Plymouth property on July 15, 2018. A fifth horse, which was close to death, survived the incident through neighbors’ intervention.

Pearce pleaded not guilty, contending that a water hose he used to keep his horses’ water trough filled had been turned off.

The case was initially investigated by the Payette County Sheriff Department, before being handed over to the Payette Police Department.

Late motions

On Dec. 23, Pearce’s attorney, John Robert Kormanik, withdrew from the case and was replaced with Nathan M. Olsen on Jan. 10.

On Feb. 14, the defense entered two motions to the court, including a motion to vacate conviction and dismiss action for lack of jurisdiction, and a motion for withheld judgement.

The defense argued that the horses in question were “production animals” and therefore the state did not go through the correct agencies to enforce the law.

“In this case, the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the State failed to comply with a mandatory prerequisite under statute before bringing animal cruelty charges against the defendant,” the motion states. “There is no dispute in this case that the horses or ’equines’ that are subject in the case were being maintained for a commercial purpose by the defendant, and therefore were a ‘production animal’ subject to the enforcement restrictions of the statute.”

In the motion for withheld judgement, the defense is asking for withheld judgement based on the report from the Idaho Department of Agriculture and letters to the judge by 67 individuals “ranging from family members, customers, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, horse professionals and owners, to veterinarians supporting the defendant.”

The Department of Agriculture report cited comes from July 25, 2018, one week after the horses were found dead, to evaluate “the body condition and care of the rest of Mr. Pearce’s livestock.”

The report was field on Aug. 7, saying that no further investigation was necessary at the time, claiming that the remaining horses appeared to be in good condition.

On Friday morning, Payette County Prosecuting Attorney Ross Pittman filed an objection to the motion to vacate, including that the horses in question could not count as production animals because they were dead.

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