Horse News

Wild Horse Killers Forfeit Licenses for Latest Violations

By Scott Sonner as appearing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal

$192 fine, each, and 2 years of no hunting

RENO – Two Nevada men who spent six months in prison for killing federally protected mustangs avoided additional prison time as part of a plea deal reached with U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday after they broke a state trapping law.

Todd Davis, 46, and Joshua Keathley, 38, agreed to forfeit their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for two years in Nevada and all other U.S. states under the plea bargain arrangement U.S. Magistrate Robert McQuaid Jr. approved Wednesday in Reno.

The two Lovelock men also agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor citation in state court for failure to visit their steel leg-hold traps within 96 hours. They face a penalty of up to $192 each in fines and court costs for violating that law, which is intended to help minimize the suffering of animals whose feet are snared in the spring-loaded, metal jaws.

McQuaid could have sent the two back to prison because they violated conditions of their parole stemming from the November 2009 killing of five wild horses. But the judge agreed to continue the supervised release for the final three weeks it’s in effect.

McQuaid berated the men in November 2010 when he sentenced them for the mustang killings after they admitted they had been drinking and used the animals for target practice.

“I keep thinking about it, and I keep coming back to the senselessness of it,” he said at the time. “Drunken and boneheaded is not an excuse.”

During Wednesday’s hearing in federal court, which lasted less than 10 minutes, McQuaid noted the two men also apparently had violated a parole prohibition on consumption of alcohol but had little else to say about the February trapping citation.

“I understand there is a deal in the works,” he told lawyers for both sides.

John Springgate, a lawyer for Keathley, confirmed both would admit the violations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami confirmed prosecutors would accept the deal without seeking additional prison time.

McQuaid insisted they turn in any and all state licenses they may possess for hunting, trapping or fishing, “not just for Nevada.”

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46 replies »

  1. Hardly a price to pay for what they have done.Who knows what other animals they used for target practice??Why doesn’t the BLM get charged with killing federally protected mustangs??There is video footage of the horses, stalions,mares, and foals they have killed in their senseless roundups…They should also be held accountable.Why have charges not been brought against them for these killings??Are they exempt from the law? There is enough video footage of the killings to put them all behind bars!!!!!


  2. Right like turning in a piece of paper is going to stop scum like this from not doing it again. It should be a felon with 5 yr sentence for each animal they hurt or destroyed.


  3. OK…they seem to have violated parole (PREVIOUS CRIME(S)!!!) because of drinking, and they are NOT going back to prison for parole violations….time served?????

    What has our judicial system become?????!

    And Ms Fahami….shame on you and your BIG boss Eric Holder! I assume, because DOI really wants dead wild equines they didn’t pursue more severe indictments and penalties. Perfect! But they can threaten and harass private citizens, journalists and welfar orgs that want to protect the welfare and life of these very same animals???????

    That says it all to me.


  4. I can’t believe that. They should have gone back just for violating Parole. Guns, alcohol…oh yeah they did the state a favor and killed some of hose pesky horses, so they get just a slap. That is a Moron.


  5. I am mortified. Nevada wants to fight Madeline Pickens, they clearly want to let these reprobates go and they could care less about America’s wild horses and burros. I know not all Nevadans feel this way and I applaud them if they are trying to help. To those Nevadans that just as soon shoot wild horses…You Disgust Me! I think we need to all email or write Harry Reid. Doubt it will do any good but it’s worth a try.


    • Harry Reid cohorted with former Sen Burns to get the Free Roaming Wild Horse/Burro Act gutted and OUR wild horses slaughtered. He does not give a rat’s ass. Foxes guarding the hens, doesn’t work. Nevadians need to find pro-mustang candidates and vote these haters out.


    • Steve:

      It appears Mrs Pickens has received some type of consideration from BLM on her “sanctuary” in Nevada (it is not only the state harrassing her…it is the Feds). It was posted on Horseback. I do have some problems with the text of the press release (from DOI…btw), especially “sterile” equines free to roam at 200 head. Really? All that land? Just 200? They have to be sterile? And that is the gift to the US and protected wild equines?

      GOVERNMENT Garbage…human, man made garbage! Geesh!


  6. This is an outrage!
    Is there anybody we can complain to?
    Complaining might not do any good this time but maybe for the next time … and there will be a next time and a next time and a next time as we have recently seen with wild horse killings in Nevada, N. California, and I believe Oregon.


  7. I agree, too lenient. They should serve additional time and lose ALL hunting, fishing, trapping privileges for life, lose the right to own any firearms plus be ordered into an alcohol program. Them maybe they would have the chance to focus on redeeming their sorry selves.


  8. Todd Davis,46, Joshua Keathley,38, a couple of morons that at your ages have nothing better to do than get drunk and use beautiful horses for target practice?

    What kind of parents and family did you boys come from? If I were related to you I would disown you and I would never want anybody to know that we came from the same bloodline.

    Magistrate Robert McQuaid Jr., you should have used the opportunity given you to mete out proper justice to these two knuckle draggers.

    Assistant US Attorney Sue Fahami, you should also have used the opportunity given you to make sure that cretin #1, Todd Davis, and cretin #2, Joshua Keathley, got what they deserved and it wasn’t “supervised” release.

    The only supervision those boys need is their fannies in jail where they fit right in.

    What goes around,comes around.


  9. $192 fine? You get more for speeding a few miles over the speed limit. And any men that treat animals like they do and allow animals to suffer and kill protected mustangs really could care less if they have a legal hunting and fishing license anyway. Taking away their license so it makes it a crime to hunt for 2 years? Well, they already break the law with a hunting license, so that really won’t deter anything. They’ll just abuse animals without a license, which they were already doing anyway since there is no license to abuse animals. So tired of these lax punishments for the cretins of our society that abuse and kill animals.


  10. As if these two are actually not going to hunt and poach just cuz a judge told them “bad boys”. They will continue unabated because they just don’t care. What struck me was they didn’t check their leg traps for 96 hours. Somehow they think it is OK for an animal to be in a leg hold trap for 96 hours. I guess it doesn’t hurt until the 97th hour? I’ll remember that next time I sprain an ankle, got 96 hours before it starts hurting. How barbaric a law is that? Actually how barbaric are leg hold traps?


    • Like what they do is hunting or fishing anyway. Pretty sure shooting protected wild horses is not “hunting.” Hey, Judge, you can stop “berating” them and just f’ing lock them up.


      • I know we all need to vent sometimes when we learn of something that is SO wrong and R.T. gives us a chance to do this (thank you R.T.) but we are “preaching to the choir” on this. Although we know that we cannot change this particular judgement … there have been and likely will continue to be more of the same kind of killings of our wild horses and burros.

        Has anyone found names and addresses of those that made this wrong decision and can we write to and/or call those people in hopes of getting our point to THEM that this decision is wrong so that next time they might think twice before “allowing” our wild ones to be murdered without punishment?

        If anyone has this information, please post it so that we can get our point across to THEM. Let’s make a STINK.


  11. Where’s the justice for the animals that were shot to death? We need stronger laws and men with a conscience to follow them through. The barbaric actions by these two punks, can’t call them men, were despicable and a stonger sentence should have been imposed.


  12. I smell a rat. After killing ANY wildlife on federal lands, this is their punishment? I can’t say for sure; but something is not quite right. If any one goes on federal lands and kills wildlife of any kind they are sentenced to a hefty fine and certain prison time…so WHAT IS DO DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS CASE? This is not their first offense. Seems that the prosecution dropped the ball; someone pulled some strings, and these two men are free to commit this crime again. But, their experience is growing and they will learn how not to get caught. How is this justice?


  13. it’s NOT ENOUGH! It’s too bad these guys didn’t get caught trapping the judges family pet…then maybe he would have done something for the rest of us!


  14. First off, it has been proven that those who abuse and kill animals have no regard for life at all and will move on to harming humans. I do believe our legislators need to pay attention to those statistics if nothing else. If they do not want to protect animals, then hey, hit them with the possibility of humans being the next target of these scum of the earth criminals.

    Next, we need to cease voting for presidents and other politicians based on their religious views, their color, their popularity and so on. We need to start showing up and asking hard questions of them that concern or should concern the American people. When I was able to travel and fight BSL(Breed Specific Legislation) I would go and ask in front of their “fans” “Jokes and unimportant issues aside, what are your feelings on BSL?” answer was usually the same of anything to protect our citizens…bunch of clapping then my angry self”No, it is proven those laws do not work. You are doing nothing more than using the lazy man’s way out to obtain popularity and give your citizens false sense of security. You see, it is the dogs, NOT BREEDS, owned by criminals and abusive bad owners that are placing them in danger. They already could care less what others think and are already breaking law in place. So really placing laws banning breeds will do nothing more than to eventually push them to other breeds or mixes and you will still have a community in danger of being attacked and maimed. Not only that, but they are very unlikely going to be rid of their animals. So what is next? An angry neighbor deciding they want to cause trouble because a pecan tree keeps dropping nuts into their yard so they call the police about an illegal breed next door so you send animal control or police over there all ghestapo style to kick in the door of a law abiding citizen where these officers probably do not know the difference between a standard schnauzer and a standard poodle and they see the dog assuming it is a dangerous breed and shoot and kill it in front of a family and small children? Is THAT really your answer to protecting your citizens? Why not instead attempt to come up with laws that affect the OWNER? That would certainly take some off the streets who should not even own animals, have animals who HAVE actually caused such troubles to be taken out of the mix and just might make Mr drug dealer decide that if his dog kills someone he will go to jail for murder with a dangerous weapon have that dog put down. If not..then we kill two birds with one stone. So, in reality and faced with this information…how DO you plan on protecting your citizens now? BSL? Is it still the answer?”…I can tell you, you may not get through to the idiot politician, but those around you WILL start thinking and taking note which in the long run…will be forced upon these politicians as something that needs addressing in an intelligent manner. Same thing with other animals. It NEEDS to be addressed with those running for office and in office intelligently and with enough people backing it before ANYTHING will ever be done. Otherwise, money talks and logic walks. Which moves us to the next art of it all….

    Everyone needs to be kept abreast of any and ALL animal legislation and what is happening all around the world and especially in the US. What may seem unimportant because it is not your state or your type of animal is hog wash. As of THIS very second, Michigan has passed laws that allow the DNR to go onto small pig farms and either force the farmer to stand there and kill their own pigs, or they will kill them right in front of the farmer, fine them with huge hefty fines and then they face FEDERAL TIME! Instead of dealing with the wild pig population they decided to pass laws stating that if ANY of your pigs even resemble a wild pig, such as having tusks, are black, spotted, red, and so on(for those who are not pig savvy, wild pigs of the US interbred with Spanish pigs that escaped into the wild and MANY wild pigs carry the same characteristics/looks of tame farm bred pigs) they will have to be shot and killed or you go to the federal pen and get fined with fines so large that you will loose everything and so will your family. They are ONLY targeting small pig farmers. When you get down to the nitty gritty, it is those with money to fill politician pockets who are being left alone and it is giving them a monopoly on the pig market thus killing off any possible competition and earning them more revenues. The politicians do not care, their pockets are fat so they passed the laws pushed by these bigger pig farms. NOW…where other, especially all of us horse people, should be concerned is that many times when this is accomplished in one area or state, others start looking at it and start pushing for the same laws to pass in their areas and states. The laws are written, also, to where ANY TYPE OF ANIMAL CAN BE ADDED TO THE LAW. So that it starts off as pigs, horses can be added next and you will get, in places where wild horses roam of course, anything resembling a wild horse MUST be shot and put down immediately or you face federal pen time and hefty fines. You can bet that the characteristics they will harp on with be color and markings. Ironically, while fighting BSL I and MANY others attempted to reach out to other animal communities such as the horse community, and were met with strange looks and laughter. If they can randomly thrw about laws like BSL, do not think any breed of dog is safe or really ANY domesticated animal is safe. Here you go, Michigan is showing that we were correct in our statements and warning others to join our causes and make it more an ANIMAL cause to fight such laws.So what now? Are most animal lovers going to remain sitting back gufawing and ignoring the logic and warnings still? Or are we as animals lovers going to stand up and say “NO MORE! IT ENDS NOW!” and actually do something to make change happen? I for one live in Georgia which is known for it’s wild hogs/pigs/boars. I myself am getting a bit antsy right about now and am planning on trying to get others to step up with me. Though I cannot travel as much due to my disease, I still plan on fighting. I have three very lovely pot bellied pigs that would indeed fit being illegal in Michigan. They are black and one female is growing in tusks which need to be trimmed often. I have horses who can just as easily be added onto such laws to worry about. So, again I ask, what now?

    If you would like more information on what is going on in Michigan, which honestly I think it would behoove everyone to start sticking their noses into such matters though they do not own pigs, there is a you tube video of a radio/you tube news type broadcast about it talking about an elderly farmer who was forced to go out and hoot each one of his pigs that he loved dearly and had been a part of his long time family farm. Please, take the time to watch it and begin thinking of how we can ALL cease the slap on the wrists such as what these two received and also protect OUR rights to own our animals peacefully. It is called Domestic Terrorism.


    • RE: Michigan pig shooting:

      You must be joking “that he loved dearly and had been part of his long time family farm” Ronald McKendrick runs a HUNTING PRESERVE called Renegade Ranch.. where one can shoot a “meat hog” for $460 and a boar for $650 and up! price list No “love” here!


      • I do believe they mentioned another farmer as well, whom would be the one I was speaking about. I do know about McKendrick. I think McKendrick escaped being bothered because he had threatened to be waiting for them.

        All in all I am not sure how this is supposed to discredit the points I made? I mean, are we to say..well ONE person we do not like is caught in this so we will sit on our hands? So, as far as that goes, what is your point? That we should continue to allow criminals like the ones mentioned keep getting of with just a slap to the wrist and we should ignore laws that very well could take away our rights as animal owners? Help me here because I am at a loss as to why you took ONE person mentioned in the video to try to discredit everything else I have said. Are you a politician? Slight of hand there a little bit? Come on…admit it if you are. Otherwise your reply to me is nothing more than a red herring considering hte points being made by me.


      • A few weeks ago I saw this video by Michigan farmer Mark Baker, a very nice fellow with a very nice family and some friendly, lovely, not-pink pigs.

        Tara, I see your point, also made by Mark Baker, that the large breeders of pigs are getting government to write laws on their behalf that unfairly target small farmers and their so-called “wild” pigs. You’re doubtless right to think that similar sneaky legislation could one day hurt owners of domestic horses who are deemed “competition” by the big breed associations. So thanks for bringing that to our attention!

        But … perhaps what Catherine is getting at is that you seem to be coming from the point of view of protecting the legal rights of the OWNERS of animals, whereas I sense, based on comments she made in R.T.’s other blog yesterday, that she is all about protecting the animals themselves, who have for eons been the rightsless property of humans.

        In the case of the draconian Michigan law, one could argue that it is hypocritical for small farmers to demand justice and mercy, then turn around and show no justice or mercy to the animals who do not want to be killed for our food.

        In other words, one can both understand that the Baker family is being wronged and also feel for the pigs — and all farmed animals — who have been wronged all along.

        As for the subject of this blog, the deal made by the defense lawyers, the judge and the assistant U.S. attorney is shameful. One can only hope that Todd Davis and Joshua Keathley have a road-to-Damascus moment in which they repent for being persecutors of animals and are transformed into activists for wild horses and burros.


      • Still trying to get used to the way this page does replies. I hope you see this Bless Us All.

        If her posts had been written as yours was, I was have not replied as I did. Your post details the view much better. It states, “I am not so fast to stand behind someone with a ranch like that due to my feelings on killing animals who do not ask to be killed”. (I know I paraphrased) The way her posts read was more of an attack on what I had stated and presented and looked to be more of a, how can I word this…I am going to go into attack angry mode over this one person and make it sound as though no one needs to listen to what you say due to this one person. That is how it read to me. You actually made a valid argument about the one pig rancher in a calm and rational well written response.

        To touch on that subject, many go to the supermarket to purchase their meat. I can promise that animal was not treated in any sort of kinder fashion. Therefore I cannot bring myself to condemn such people so quickly as long as the met IS used for food. Many times the food we buy from the market is treated much much worse when alive, while the government and these big companies pump them full of chemicals while they are alive. Chemicals that do not belong in their bodies nor ours. Many of the animals bred by big companies are also bred to be inhumane sizes. All for bigger animals to give them more to sell. Many of these animals cannot even naturally breed and reproduce and have to be artificially inseminated. Knowing all of this, I cannot condemn the farmers who DO allow natural reproduction and for animals to live more normal happy lives for slaughtering for food. I raise chickens for eggs. I allow them to free range for better and healthier eggs. Some even come up on my front porch and sit with me as I relax and enjoy hearing me talk to them as they quietly cluck back. Some are so friendly and tame, I have to get in my vehicle and grab chickens and set them outside of the vehicle as they will run and jump in the vehicle as I am entering it. The eggs bought from stores come from chickens in overcrowded conditions where many end up trampled and suffocated due to too large of numbers in the coops. They have overly chemical filled foods fed to them that transfer into their eggs. Their caretakers spend no time with them. They are manhandled regularly and when they cease laying eggs are inhumanely disposed of as useless. My old girls who no longer lay, they still hang out here for the rest of their lives. They go and play in the creek that runs through my property and enjoy occasional treats with the others like leftovers(they LOVE spaghetti) and in the winter time when it is cold they always have clean warm dry hay to nest in and I feed large bowls of nice warm oatmeal at least once a day. Do you see what I am getting at? Why I cannot condemn small farm farmers who raise animals for food? Why I am not too fast to discount someone who is fighting the same battle I am who has animals for food use? I may not LIKE or agree with it all, but if it is true about the one man…it sounds as though his animals run about free and are not trapped in some tiny area being shot up with chemicals and fed a ton of chemicals, probably eat a lot better than the pigs who end up in the super market as well. Which I would have no problem telling him to his face, I do not like you personally nor what you do. He looses his rights, so do we.

        Getting the government to see animals as having rights is a LOT less likely to happen, than to get them to agree to OWNERS rights. There are probably many of them who may have a frou frou small dog more as an accessory than as a pet. You can’t change how they view animals and to them, animals having rights is ludicrous. You can fight for stricter laws concerning abuse and neglect and for owners rights all day long and many times they will cave and do what is needed. I know here in my state we have finally made it a federal offense to abuse, neglect, and molest an animal (there is a huge definition for molest that is not all sexual, so before the sheep herder jokes can begin..). So at least WE can be their voice and seek justice for them. Though it being such a hefty charge, it makes it harder to get convictions now, so many of us scream for other charges to be thrown on top too. I will also state, that I DO like the law viewing my animals as my property. Because where I live, I am allowed to protect my property how ever I deem fit for the situation. As one young kid found out when he refused to stop walking through my property with his rifle that he would carelessly point at my animals, including my horses. The last time he did such I viewed him as a deadly threat to my property and my gun and I LEGALLY were allowed to let him know that. I also like knowing that if someone does ANYTHING that could cause ANY sort of harm to my animals in ANY way, *I* can legally have them raked over the coals and take half of what they own. That is also why you will not see me have too huge of an issue over PETS being seen as property from my end. Then again, I AM the type that I would do what ever necessary to keep my animals safe and happy.


      • Yes, I see your reply, Tara, and yes, I understand your position. I’m glad you are a good guardian of the animals in your care and I hope you never betray their trust in you and loyalty to you. I’ll leave it at that. Thanks!


  15. Well……..hands slapped again. A mere slap that is ludicrous. It would seem to me that the judge would realize there is no remorse, no compassion and no respect for living things. Guess when they go on their next drunken killing spree and it’s a human, folks in the justice system may take things seriously.


  16. Are you kidding me? They need to sit in jail for a few years and think about what they’ve done! They have violated parole, killed federally protected animals….WOW….justice definitely isn’t served here. Forfeiting their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses is a freakin joke! Who’s to say they won’t go out and get drunk and use animals for target practice. They need to be locked up so it can be safe to say they won’t do it again! Why is it when it comes to animal cruelty the justice system just sux!!!!!??????


  17. THis is exactly why there are so many people in prison! They can get away with MURDER!! Infuriates me to no end. Make prisons like they used to be on Alcatraz or the chain gangs. Hard labor, 1 meal a day, etc, etc….. make it so bad, that people will think twice!!


  18. Outragious !!!! It is fact that Animal abusers , turn into people abusers , What part of that dont the Judges understand ????? If they would really be presenting Justice they need to consider this !!!!


  19. I am so excited and proud to Announce through the Hard work work Of Jo Diebel of Angel acres and her staff , here in Cleveland , Ohio we now have a anti Horse slaughter BILLBOARD on Rt 77, It stands Magestic in the Air for all to see !!!!! I am so happy !!!!!!


  20. Some people qualify as a total waste of air and ground space on the planet. These two are very high on that list. I hope their parents are REALLY REALLY proud of them. What disgusting pieces of crap.


  21. What can I say, “BIG DEAL”. They did it once, twice, and they will continue doing it, even without their liecenses. What is it going to take to stop people like this?


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