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Mount Carmel man now facing 11 counts of cruelty to animals

Jeff Bobo • Apr 21, 2013 at 8:47 AM

CHURCH HILL — A representative from a Hawkins County horse rescue agency described a pasture on AFG Road as “gruesome” where an unknown number of horses allegedly died from neglect, and where 13 starving horses were rescued last week.

Timothy Edward Lee, 35, 1111 Independence Ave., is now facing a total of 11 counts of cruelty to animals.

The charges stem from five neglected horses that were seized from his property on AFG Road April 16-17; as well as eight more horses seized on April 18 that Lee had allegedly failed to report.

Animal rescuers claim they also found a substantial number of dead horse carcasses on the property. The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday the situation remains under investigation.

On Tuesday, April 16, the HCSO issued a criminal summons to Lee on five counts of animal cruelty, as opposed to arresting him, in exchange for him voluntarily turning over five surviving horses that were being kept at 753 AFG Road.

The initial investigation was launched by HCSO Sgt. Scott Alley on April 8, when he requested that University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension agent Bob Moncier examine the horses.

Moncier’s report indicated the horses had been criminally neglected and were suffering from malnutrition, among other ailments.

The Hawkins County-based TEARS (Treadway Equine Animal Rescue Sanctuary) located on Route 66 north of Rogersville rescued the initial five horses on April 16-17.

On Thursday, April 18, the HCSO returned to AFG Road on a complaint of eight neglected horses being kept by Lee on property adjoining the 753 AFG Road pasture.

HCSO Detective Michael Price stated in his report that upon arriving on the scene April 18 he called Moncier back to assist in evaluating the horses.

“(Moncier) stated his findings showed that the horses — six adults and two colts — had body conditions that showed the cruelty to animals statute had been violated,” Price stated in his report.

Lee allegedly provided Price a signed statement that he had been caring for the horses for approximately a year and a half and also had made repairs to the fence around the land that they’re on.

Lee had no explanation for why he didn’t inform the HCSO or horse rescuers about the additional horses on April 16-17 when the first five horses were being rescued.

“He also stated that he had difficulty caring for animals due to money issues and a shortage of hay,” Price added.

One horse rescuer told the Times-News the scene inside the AFG Road pasture looked like a horse cemetery.

The TEARS representative said, “Horses have been dying all over in there. There are burial mounds, hides, pieces of tails and manes all different colors. The smell is enough to make a buzzard ill.”

Lee was released from the Hawkins County Jail Thursday on $500 bond and is scheduled for arraignment Monday.

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