Press-Republican

Police, Fire, Courts

June 3, 2014

Trial begins in Essex horse-seizure case

ESSEX — The jury in Shelley Wing’s horse-neglect trial will consider numerous photographs as the case is prosecuted in Essex Town Court.

In opening statements Monday, Essex County Assistant District Attorney Mike Langey told the jury of six and two alternates that those images will bear a good deal of evidence.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Langey said. “The old saying is going to ring true in this case.”

The prosecution has photographs of each of Wing’s 41 horses, described by the ADA as “grossly underweight” and suffering from “chronic malnourishment, meaning over a long period of time.”

Wing faces 41 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide sustenance, one for each horse that was seized from her Wing and a Prayer Farm in the Town of Essex last September.

The stallions, mares and foals were living on 20 acres.

‘LOVE OF HORSES’

“This case is about the love of horses,” Public Defender Bill Tansey told the jury, asserting that Wing fed them hay and gave them water.

“Mrs. Wing fell upon hard financial times,” he added, suggesting that the county’s intent was to take the animals.

“I think at the end of this case, we’ll all agree Mrs. Wing’s horses were skinny. I think at the end of the day, we’ll all agree they weren’t criminally skinny,” Tansey said.

NEIGHBOR’S VIEW

The first witness to testify was Greg Bigelow, whose property borders the Wing farm.

He said some of the herd often strayed onto his fields.

On Aug. 25, 2013, he saw three eating in the tall grass.

“All the ribs were showing on the largest horse,” Bigelow testified.

He took several photographs, approaching the animals on his tractor.

“I drove right up to (them). They paid no attention. They were starved.”

He called the Essex County sheriff.

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