Criminal mischief charges dropped, other counts remain in cattle shooting case

By Kelly Ducote, The Observer January 09, 2014 12:09 pm

Joel Rice, right, listens as his attorney Wes Williams makes a point during a hearing regarding August's Glass Hill Road cattle shootings. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Joel Rice, right, listens as his attorney Wes Williams makes a point during a hearing regarding August's Glass Hill Road cattle shootings. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
 

UPDATE: Visiting Judge Lung S. Hung granted a motion to dismiss criminal mischief charges in the case involving cattle shootings on Glass Hill Road that occurred in August 2013.

Joel Rice, a La Grande psychiatrist, is charged with seven counts of criminal mischief in the first degree, five counts of aggravated animal abuse in the first degree and two counts of animal abuse in the first degree in connection with Glass Hill Road cattle shootings.

Hung found that animal abuse charges are not subject to a civil compromise. He said he would sign an order from defense counsel to have the seven counts of criminal mischief in the first degree dismisssed. The seven counts of animal abuse will remain. If the parties do not reach a resolution the case will head to trial.

Following the shooting of the cows, Rice paid the three cattle owners involved $47,500, according to court documents. The cattle owners -- Mark Gomes, Ted Mudd and Irwin Smutz -- signed an acknowledgement of satisfaction with the settlement payment on Sept. 3.

"We do not desire to prosecute Joel D. Rice, and agree that all counts brought against him for the above incident, should be dismissed," the document says.

Rice's defense team argued that the payment, public and personal apologies, and potential disciplinary actions from the Oregon Medical Board is "sufficient 'punishment and deterrence' in this case."

Prosecutor Mona Williams said during opening statements she would be OK with dismissing criminal mischief charges, but wants to pursue the animal abuse charges.

 Read more in Friday's edition of The Observer.