S.D. couple sentenced to jail for neglecting horses

Farm Forum

RAPID CITY (AP) – A western South Dakota couple convicted of neglecting horses were sentenced to jail during a hearing they didn’t attend.

On Oct. 9 Don Harwood was sentenced to five years in jail and his wife, Terri, was sentenced to a one-year term. They each will be on probation for several years after their jail time. Don Harwood also must undergo drug testing while on probation and is banned from possessing horses for the next nine years.

Harwood is a ”terrible horse person,” Magistrate Judge Shawn Pahlke said.

Pahlke gave Don Harwood a lengthier jail term than his wife because he did not cooperate with a presentence investigation and because of his criminal record, which includes drug and driving under the influence convictions, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Law officers in January seized 69 horses at the property the Harwoods rented in Rapid Valley. Authorities said the horses did not have food or water, and some were thin and weak.

”Not getting up and going out to provide water is not the action of a caring person,” Pahlke said on Oct. 9.

A jury in August convicted the Harwoods on nine counts each of inhumane treatment of an animal.

Pahlke questioned Don Harwood’s attorney, Robbie Rohl, about why the couple was not present – something the judge said was unusual and unfortunate.

Rohl reminded the judge that the Harwoods had each provided their attorneys with waivers allowing the attorneys to represent them at court hearings. He also said he advised his client not to attend the hearing because he was worried Harwood’s ”heated, spirited personality” would come out during the sentencing.

”He doesn’t feel that he’s done anything wrong in relation to the horses,” Rohl said.

Pahlke said the jury in the case sent a strong message by convicting the couple on all counts.

”I have to listen to the jury,” Pahlke said.