Caregiver sentenced in Minnesota horse abuse case

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Farm Forum

The caregiver for six horses found dead in February was sentenced in Otter Tail County, Minn., District Court on Aug. 19.

William Vance Tompkins, 19, of Owasso, Okla., was sentenced to 365 days in jail, with 284 days to be stayed for one year, for one gross misdemeanor count of mistreating animals. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 19. In exchange for the plea, three misdemeanor counts and one felony count of mistreating animals were dismissed. As part of his sentence, Tompkins is not to own or have unsupervised contact with animals.

In court Aug. 19, Tompkins said the horses “were left in my care” while his mother and stepfather were in Montana. He said a tractor wasn’t working, and he didn’t try to fix it because he didn’t know anything about how to fix it. As a result, the horses weren’t fed.

“Some of them lost weight, and some of them passed away,” Tompkins said.

The reported owners of the horses, Tompkins’ mother, Penny Lynn Fick, 38, and Bill Karl Fick, 48, both of Vergas, Minn., face one felony count, one gross misdemeanor count and 19 misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals. Bill Fick pleaded not guilty to all charges on Aug. 19. Penny Fick pleaded not guilty to all charges July 16.

According to the criminal complaints, Bill and Penny Fick were the owners of six horses that were found dead on the property at 31327 430th St. in rural Vergas when authorities executed a search warrant Feb. 26.

Eleven live horses were found, ranging in age from less than a year old to 18 years old.

They were “dangerously thin” and weak due to malnutrition and dehydration, according to the report.

No food source was allegedly available and a 100-gallon water tank was frozen next to a non-functional heater.

Neighbors told authorities the animals hadn’t been cared for since the Ficks left in December 2012, the report says. The property owner is Bill Fick’s mother.

Penny Fick’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 3. Bill Fick’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 17.