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Keith Hall Re-Arrested On Felony Animal Cruelty

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Keith Hall
A new state jail felony Animal Cruelty charge has been filed against Keith Hall, Weatherford, Texas, the owner of recently deceased 1990 National Cutting Horse Association Futurity Open Champion horse Millie Montana, following an investigation by Louis Sherman, a member of the Parker County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Division.

 

The investigation started Aug. 12, following the discovery of nine other dead and dying horses near Weatherford, Texas. The felony count deals with alleged mistreatment of Millie Montana, but Sherman’s investigation also led to eight new misdemeanor charges.

Hall was re-arrested Tuesday, Sept. 13, on a felony Animal Cruelty charge related to Millie Montana’s treatment and death, plus the eight additional misdemeanor counts. Hall also spends time in Arizona and the warrants regarding his re-arrest had remained pending for several days, according to Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler.

Millie Montana was put to rest Aug. 19 due to severe health problems. Nine other horses owned by Hall were also found dead or dying on property adjacent to land that he owns along Old Brock Road near Weatherford, Texas, on Aug. 12. Hall was originally charged with one misdemeanor Cruelty To Livestock offense. He’s been charged with eight new misdemeanors and one felony count, according to Parker County Jail records.

Bonds were set at $1,500 for each of the new misdemeanor charges and at $7,500 for the felony count, according to jail records. Jail records also state he was booked into the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, Texas, at 8:44 a.m. on Sept. 13 and released on bond that night at 6:41 p.m.

According to a press release from the Parker County Sheriff’s Department, there was no water, hay or food left on the property for the original nine horses that died. A woman also charged with a misdemeanor Cruelty To Animals offense, Linda Phariss, told investigators Hall had not been feeding his horses and he had instructed her not to give them any hay until he arrived. Hall reportedly told investigators he does not feed the majority of his horses anything except what they graze from in the pasture, according to a statement filed after Hall’s original Cruelty To Animals misdemeanor charge and arrest.

According to a filed statement, Sherman learned that Hall owned another horse, Millie Montana, who had been kept in a stall, along with a young foal, on property owned by Hall near the site where the dead horses were discovered on Aug. 12. A local veterinarian, Dr. Lisa Stephens, DVM, evaluated Millie Montana at Hall’s property and then had her removed to another property for further evaluation.

This is a portion of Stephen’s written evaluation: “Millie Montana was evaluated to determine if there was any way possible to give her a good quality of life. Millie was in minimal flesh. Body condition score 2/10 (thin). Millie had open but dry wounds on both hips (usually due to lying down for long periods of time) with smaller wounds on her shoulders. Her hair coat was very sparse along her spine, withers and face. She was able to walk reluctantly at grade 4/5 lameness (5/5 is non-weight bearing) on both front fee with high does of anti inflammatories in her system and was barely able to remain upright if asked to turn. She stood in the classic laminetic stance (rocked back bearing most of her weight on the hind limbs).”

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Millie Montana during her last week of life
The veterinarian’s evaluation continued: “The mare has deterioration of over a third of her right front coffin bone (it is gone) along with bilateral severe rotation. These changes did not happen over the past few weeks. This is a long-term, chronic condition … even in the best-case scenarios these horses are living on borrowed time. It was determined that Millie did not and had not had quality of life without severe pain and she was euthanized on Friday, Aug. 19.”

Regarding the original scene involving eight dead horses and another horse later euthanized due to poor condition, investigator Sherman states: “I observed on galvanized steel water trough that the horses had access to and appeared to be supplied by well water on the property. I further observed both troughs to be empty and dry. I observed that there had been no rain in the region and the temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees Farenheit every day for over one month, resulting in drought conditions. I observed the field where the horses were kept to be in very poor condition. There was no vegetation for the horses to eat. I did not see any vegetation growth anywhere in the field. I did not see any place where fresh hay or feed supplements were placed out for the horses.”

Sherman also stated he spoke with Hall as A part of his investigation. “I spoke with the suspected party who stated he does not feed the majority of the horses anything except what they graze from in the pasture and does not put hay out for them except during the winter months. Although the suspected party stated he does not normally put out hay for his horses, he stated that he did have ample hay available in his barn.”

Another area veterinarian, Dr. Dene Herbel, D.V.M, estimated the dead horses discovered Aug. 12 had been dead one to three days before then and stated: “It is my opinion that the nutritional deficiency and lack of water led to the death of these animals.”

Hall was booked into the Parker County jail for the second time Tuesday, following his original Aug. 19 arrest on one misdemeanor Cruelty To Livestock charge. That charge alleged he failed to provide water and food for nine horses for at least two or more days.

Millie Montana (Montana Doc x Cal Filly Bar x Cal Bar) carried trainer Joe Suiter, Litchfield Park, Ariz., to a victory worth $92,468 with a final-round 221.5 during the 1990 NCHA Futurity Open finals in Fort Worth, Texas. She went on to earn $139,353 during her cutting career. She also won several Amateur and Non-Pro events with Hall riding her, according to Equi-Stat records.

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Horse found at scene later euthanized
On Aug. 12, Parker County authorities responded to reports of distressed horses. They found eight horses already dead from an apparent lack of water and food on property adjoining Hall’s land, according to a report filed after the original investigation. A ninth horse owned by Hall found on the same property was examined by a local veterinarian and humanely put to rest the next day due to liver and renal failure, the report stated.

On Aug. 13, Parker County authorities asked well-known local horsewoman and mare care specialist Shelly Burmeister Mowery to check on Millie Montana’s health. The horse’s identity was originally unknown to investigators. They found the 24-year-old mare in a stall near where the other nine horses had been turned out, along with a young foal, with an impure water supply and several health issues.

Mowery, a cutting horse owner, non-pro cutter and National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame member, had worked as a television reporter during the 1990 NCHA Futurity Open event won by the mare. She recognized the horse right away. “You don’t forget a Futurity winner,” Mowery said.

Along with her husband, cutting horse trainer Rick Mowery, she provided care and a healthy refuge for Millie Montana the last week of the horse’s life. Told by the veterinarian the mare was unlikely to recover and live a good life, the couple arranged to put her to rest and then arranged for her burial. Hall agreed to the Mowerys taking possession of Millie Montana, according the sheriff.

Milie Montana, the NCHA Futurity’s Open Champion horse 21 years ago this fall, produced nine foals that earned money as cutters and one that earned money as a working cow horse. And there's a chance one more could eventually join that list.

The colt found next to Mille Montana when she was discovered on Hall's property is also Millie's and has been taken care of by the Mowerys since then. He appears to be doing well, Shelly Mowery said.