Horse News

Billings jury finds Leachman guilty on 5 counts of Horse Abuse

By JAN FALSTAD Billings Gazette

“Leachman has blamed everyone else for not taking care of his horses…”
Jim Leachman prepares to leave court Tuesday after being found guilty of cruelty to animals. ~ photo by Bob Zellar

Jim Leachman prepares to leave court Tuesday after being found guilty of cruelty to animals. ~ photo by Bob Zellar

BILLINGS – After the longest trial in Yellowstone County Justice Court history, a jury found Billings livestock breeder James Leachman guilty on Tuesday evening of all five counts of abusing his horses.

On January 2011, the county attorney’s office charged Leachman with five misdemeanor counts of animal neglect.

The six-person jury deliberated for three hours after a trial that lasted seven days, instead of the usual one or two days.

During closing arguments, Yellowstone County Deputy Chief Attorney Rod Souza said at least five of Leachman’s 800 horses pastured on a ranch east of Billings suffered from leg bands used for identification that were too tight or from other leg injuries that were never treated.

“It’s not days. It’s not weeks. It’s months. And, it’s that amount of time that brings out the negligence,” Souza said.

Leachman has blamed everyone else for not taking care of his horses, Souza said, but that was Leachman’s duty.

Four of the five horses cited in this case died or were humanely shot because of these bands, Souza said.

“Even after charges were filed, he still never cared for his horses,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist.

In Leachman’s defense, Deputy Public Defender Roberta Drew said the horses got injured some other way, not from the leg bands.

When the bands were removed from 300 horses wearing them on both front legs, there were minimal problems, she said.

“Two horses had some injury to their legs out of 600 bands,” Drew said in her closing arguments.

The bands were removed after Leachman’s horses were seized for trespassing on Crow tribal land and sold at a Bureau of Indian Affairs auction in April 2011.

At the end of his trial, Leachman testified in his own defense that he never had problems with the bands and would use them again. Contradicting a half-dozen prosecution witnesses, Leachman said no one told him about problems or showed him any injured horses.

“In Montana, if you see someone else’s livestock injured, you let that person know,” Drew said.

Souza said his neighbors stopped talking to Leachman because he is an “abusive and litigious” man. Souza questioned why other people could see the injuries when Leachman couldn’t.

No one else uses unbreakable leg bands designed for dairy cattle on horses, Souza said.

“They’re inherently dangerous. You can’t turn the horses out into the wilderness and never check them,” he said.

The five misdemeanor charges are “stacked,” meaning they collectively carry the same sentence as a single felony charge. Leachman faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Justice of the Peace Larry Herman scheduled sentencing for 3 p.m. Dec. 12.

Leachman, who left the courtroom without comment, could appeal the verdict to District Court.

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18 replies »

  1. So sad…here again the poor horses suffered. It appears the man could care less. It seems if people did try to help him, he would probably say they were interferring with his horses. This seems to be the problem because the horses are not totally valued.


  2. Lets all hope that the proper sentence will follow !!~!!!! The abuse of horses has got to stop !!! I am hoping judge will make an example of this case !!!!!


  3. Hopefully along with his sentence will come a ban on owning livestock. It sounds like it’s not going to stop him from using them again according to the article. Hopefully once again, the judge with take that into consideration.


  4. Oh big deal..misdemeanor charges..maximum sentence 5 yrs and 5K…probably will suspend it all and put his behind on probation.. we all know how justice serves animals! Yes I’m mad..


  5. I hope Leachman gets the actual 5 year jail time and not probation. His fine should be $5,000 for each horse that he abused. Leachman is a leach.


  6. I would like to see bands put on his hands and legs. This sentence does not carry enough penalties, cash or time to be served. Why has our horses become a target of elimination? This is insane. What has the human race become? Why do so many people want and do harm against God’s animals? The human race is showing its true colors and it is disgusting. We are supposed to have more brains than any animal and it certainly looks like we show less brains. I wish all humans that hurt animals or other humans would be punished to the “tenth” degree and severly and not be permitted to have ANY ANIMALS thereafter.


  7. Well, let’s see what the “honorable” judge does with sentence…I’m gonna lay odds it won’t be pretty for the public or those tortured and dead horses.

    Bet this piece of scum barely gets anything (and he will appeal) because of his long time “good standing” in the community and his age….wanna’ bet?

    What an arrogant POS!


  8. Am I reading this correctly, the bands were removed from the 300 horses after they trespassed on tribal land & were sold. This idiot has/had 800 horses in his ‘care’ which is beyond comprehension …… it would be understandable for someone like him to overlook 300 missing….but then, your neighbors are suppost to be making sure your animals are OK, right?


  9. probation and a fine ,he will never pay. Our courts just don’t care about animals , this good old boy whose neighbors don’t even speak to him. How many years and how many horses have suffered. He is saying now he will use these leg bands again. I guess these leg bands make the cows feel good??? Who cares they will go to slaughter. The animals have no rights.



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