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Helena man found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty in horse abuse case

Horse Neglect Case
Posted at 1:13 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 15:20:44-04

HELENA — Robert Edwin Erickson, 71, was found guilty Wednesday of aggravated animal cruelty by a jury.

Erickson was one of three men charged in the June 2021 case of 58 horses being abused on the Erickson property.

On June 1, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at a property in the 6700 block of Applegate Road. They seized the 58 horses and transported them to the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. The animals were later transferred to a separate secure location.

According to court documents, a veterinarian joined the sheriff's office and determined that eight horses were underweight, 19 horses had overgrown hooves, many had lice, and five had abnormal hernias.

According to court documents, county law enforcement officials had received calls starting from 2013 to 2021 about the welfare of the horses on the property.

The documents say in 2018 animal control officers observed injured horses that received inadequate medical care, a barn that was full of mud and waste, and poorly maintained pastures. Officers say they told the Ericksons to clean up the facilities and get the horses proper treatment.

According to court documents, Robert Erickson had previously been convicted of cruelty to horses in Phillips County in 1997. He and Alan Erickson had been charged with neglecting horses again in the same county in 2008. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement in that latter case, documents say the men were required to reduce the number of horses in their possession and provide adequate food and water.

Robert Erickson is set to have a sentencing hearing on June 22.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton told MTN the judge will determine where the animals will go in the future at a later date.