Jury acquits horse trainer | News, Sports, Jobs
NEW ULM — A rural Sleepy Eye horse trainer charged with horse negligence was acquitted on Friday after about an hour of deliberation by a Brown County District Court jury of five men and one woman.
Candi J. Lemarr, 44, of rural Sleepy Eye, was charged in 2020 with 20 misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. The charges alleged that many of the horses Lemarr cared for at his Sapphire horse farm were significantly underweight.
“I thought the prosecution had found a great case. I can’t say we’re not happy with the verdict. We’re,” Mankato’s defense attorney, James J. Kuettner of Mankato, said at the end of the week-long trial.
“(Brown County Deputy Attorney) Jill Jensen and law enforcement have done a terrific job on this case. Justice has been done,” said Paul Gunderson, assistant Brown County prosecutor
In her closing argument, Minneapolis attorney Katherine J. Claffey said there was conflicting testimony in the case. She added that deputies brought New Ulm veterinarian Dr Nancy Peterson to the Lemarr farm in November 2020, but she did not properly grade some of the horses in question and a body camera confirmed this.
Claffey said testimony that there was no evidence of hay or manure in a stable was not true because body camera evidence showed Peterson had intervened.
“There were confusing testimonies and no tests of horses that suffered,” said Claffey.
She added that the only emaciated, muddy horses at Lemarr’s farm were those sent to Lemarr’s farm by Stacey Meyer of Iowa.
“It just doesn’t fit. Several witnesses including Kayla Mathiowetz (of the Sleepy Eye campaign) supported Candi Lemarr”, said Claffey.
“Horses are difficult to follow. Their weight changes. The weather is changing. Sometimes you have to run to the barn and put a blanket on them or take it off, as Candi said. Were they dehydrated because they were stressed from being transported to an animal hospital? Mrs. Lemarr did not torture or neglect the horses.
In his closing argument, Jensen said there were holes in the defense testimony. She said one of the defense witnesses was unable to identify two of the horses in question.
“Consider Lemarr’s interest in the matter”, said Jensen. “Candi Lemarr couldn’t remember certain details unless Mr. Kuettner asked her.”
Lemarr testified that she became interested in horses at a young age, studied horses at many organizations including Online Training, 4-H and the University of Minnesota.
She testified that she belonged to the Virginia Quarter Horse Association and the U.S. Equestrian Association and other organizations before deciding to return home to Minnesota to establish a youth equestrian center.
“I wanted to give back to the community. We created a horse farm with bespoke stables and we were very proud of that,” Lemarr testified.
“I met Stacey Meyer on Facebook in 2014 and she wanted me to take care of some of her horses that she said were too skinny to be racehorses.” Lemarr testified. “Every horse Meyer sent to me had major issues. They looked terrible. She called and texted me day and night about her horses. When they arrived at our farm, they were covered in mud. It was so bad that we had to cut off some of the horsehair. We put them in a stall, gave them hay and water, and removed a halter built into one of them.
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation in November 2020 after receiving a report that a person who rode a horse was returned emaciated and covered in feces.
Authorities said Lemarr voluntarily surrendered seven horses and three donkeys. They were transported to the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation in Zimmerman.
(Fritz Busch can be emailed to [email protected]).