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State v. Gilchrist

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

November 9, 2017

STATE OF OKLAHOMA, Appellant,
v.
GEORGE WESLEY GILCHRIST, JR., Appellee. Supreme Court of Oklahoma

         AN APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF GRANT COUNTY THE HONORABLE PAUL K. WOODWARD, DISTRICT JUDGE

         APPEARANCES AT HEARING

          STEVEN YOUNG STEVEN YOUNG ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR THE STATE

          GRACE K. YATES HOLMES & YATES LAW, P.L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT

         APPEARANCES ON APPEAL

          STEVEN YOUNG ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT

          GRACE K. YATES HOLMES & YATES LAW, P.L.L.C.COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE

          OPINION

          HUDSON, JUDGE.

         ¶1 On August 4, 2015, George Wesley Gilchrist, Jr., was charged with thirteen (13) counts of Cruelty to Animals, in violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 1685, in the District Court of Grant County, Case No. CF-2015-21. Gilchrist was bound over at preliminary hearing on all counts. Gilchrist thereafter filed a motion to quash alleging, inter alia, that he could only be charged with a single count of Cruelty to Animals because the evidence showed the dogs in question were all found in one location and that their care had been abandoned for roughly the same period of time. The State filed a responsive pleading to the motion to quash and a hearing was held on the matter on July 6, 2016. At the conclusion of this hearing, the Honorable Paul K. Woodward, District Judge, sustained the motion to quash and dismissed Counts 2- -13.

         ¶2 Appellant, the State of Oklahoma, now appeals. We exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 22 O.S.2011, § 1053 (4). See Tilley v. State ex rel. Scaggs, 1993 OK CR 52, ¶¶ 5-6, 869 P.2d 847, 849; State v. Truesdell, 1980 OK CR 97, ¶¶ 2-3, 620 P.2d 427, 428, overruled on other grounds, State v. Hammond, 1989 OK CR 25, ¶ 6, 775 P.2d 826, 828. For the reasons discussed below, we reverse the District Court's ruling.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶3 The State's evidence at preliminary hearing showed Gilchrist deprived thirteen (13) dogs of food, water and adequate shelter while they were confined near a grove of trees on his rural Grant County property. Two of the dogs were chained separately to small metal shelters; the other eleven were separately penned. An overwhelming smell of rotting carcass permeated the air when investigators arrived; a pile of cattle bones was found nearby. Photographs of all but one dog were introduced as exhibits. These photos show emaciated and dehydrated dogs, separately chained or penned, with no food or fresh water despite sweltering July temperatures near 100 degrees. At most, small amounts of muddy, undrinkable water were found in some of the pens and bones with rotting carcass and fat were found within reach of many of the dogs.

         ¶4 Dr. Erica League, an Enid veterinarian, examined the thirteen dogs at the scene and found they were each in desperate need of immediate medical care. The dogs were all dehydrated and desperate for water. The first two dogs she examined were extremely dehydrated and near death. Dr. League attributed this to the fact that these two dogs had less shade from nearby trees than the others. The first chained dog was going into shock, had its chain wrapped around a tree branch and couldn't stand up. When given fresh water, the dog simply vomited it out because it had gone without water for so long. The second chained dog was lying on his side while drifting in and out of consciousness. This dog also had muscle fasciculation suggestive of seizure activity and was extremely feverish.

         ¶5 Most of the thirteen dogs were malnourished and poorly conditioned- -many with sunken eyes and visible ribs. No feces were observed in and around the dogs suggesting they had not eaten recently. Many of the dogs were infested with fleas, ticks and maggots. Some of the dogs too had visible wounds and injuries that were left untreated. The decomposing carcass of a fourteenth dog was found in a nearby pen. In Dr. League's opinion, none of the thirteen dogs had been fed or watered within the 48 hours previous to their discovery by law enforcement. Dr. League opined that the bones with ...


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