Equine Rescue

Montana Livestock Breeder Leachman Sentenced to Jail for Horse Abuse

As published in the Billings Gazette

At least four of Leachman’s horses died in “horrible agony,” the judge said
James Leachman reads a letter of support from a cattleman in Oklahoma to a court audience during a break in his sentencing for animal cruelty Wednesday afternoon.

James Leachman reads a letter of support from a cattleman in Oklahoma to a court audience during a break in his sentencing for animal cruelty Wednesday afternoon.

Yellowstone County Justice of the Peace Larry Herman sentenced Billings livestock breeder James Leachman on Wednesday to serve five years in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, with all but 120 days suspended, for horse abuse.

The judge also fined Leachman $5,000 and prohibited him from owning cows or horses for the duration of his sentence.

Herman granted all the jail time and fines sought by the prosecution. Leachman faced a maximum five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Leachman, 70, was led away in handcuffs after the sentencing, but he plans to appeal his conviction to Yellowstone District Court. His son, Seth Leachman, was making arrangements in the courtroom to post a $5,000 bond to immediately release his father from jail during the appeal.

At least four of Leachman’s horses died in “horrible agony,” the judge said.

All Leachman had to do, Herman said, was attend to his horses that were crippled from plastic leg bands put on their front legs for identification purposes, bands that weren’t adjusted or removed as the horses grew. Leachman has taken no responsibility for the dead horses he’s charged with abusing, Herman said, or many more in his herd of more than 800 horses that were limping from the tight bands.

“He indicated at trial and today he would to it all over again,” the judge said.

The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office charged Leachman with animal abuse on January 2011, but his trial was delayed until late last month.

On Dec. 4, a six-person jury found Leachman guilty of all five misdemeanor counts of animal abuse for the Hairpin Cavvy brand horses he raised on a Crow Reservation ranch east of Billings. The trial lasted seven days, a record for Yellowstone County Justice Court.

During sentencing, Leachman represented himself. After he was convicted, he fired his two deputy public defenders, who sat through the sentencing.

Chief Deputy Attorney Rod Souza noted that Leachman had no criminal record. But Souza asked for jail time and the maximum fine because of Leachman’s “deliberate indifference” to his injured horses and the need for the county to feed and water hundreds of his horses during the winter of 2010-2011.

“What the court has seen in display is extreme arrogance,” Souza said.

As he did at trial, Leachman insisted during his sentencing that no one has proved he neglected his horses and that he didn’t know there were any problems with the leg bands.

In asking the judge for leniency, Leachman told the court that he had broken his right kneecap but delayed surgery because of the trial; that he suffered a heart attack in recent years and lives alone on Social Security income. He also argued against a lifetime ban on owning livestock, which the prosecution wanted.

“I own interest in livestock all over the world, residual interests,” he said.

Leachman said he would rather be sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder than be thought of as a horse abuser.

“To lay this on me is like putting on a leper suit,” he said.

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26 replies »

  1. How about a really tight plastic leg band on his ankles and as they swell and eat into his flesh perhaps he would have more compassion and understanding into the pain and agony his horses experienced. I would also like to reach out to my Indian friends in Montana to cancel his contract and lease of Reservation land. What an arrogant old man! ARG!!


  2. Finally, SOME JUSTICE !!!!!! I would say the Leper Suit fits him to a T………………..What he arrogantly says he takes no responsibility for the those horses deaths , make me want to BARF !!!!! I am hoping the Sentence is upheld !!!!! Nothing worse then a old FOOL !!!!!!


  3. a glimmer of justice. maybe this arrogant asshole will die befofe 5 years is up. here’s to another heart attack! cheers.
    His son has purchased some of the horses back – is he abusing them further?


      • Amen!

        Salazar’s crimes to equines(all wildlife) and the land (especially water) are far greater than this cretin….he is just not giving away the US candy store as a special interest wh*re that Repubs and Dems look the other way for.

        Told you he’d pull out the “health and age” card.

        I bet the sentence gets reduced on appeal still, yet.

        But it is something and he STILL DOESN’T GET IT…..neither does his son (and where the f**K was he when this neglect and abuse was going on?)….and the cattlemen of Colorado can go have a reality enema. If this abuser can read letters from out of state to the judicial system, then advocates better da*n well better be able to.


  4. Wow…unbelievable. Don’t want to end up in court on muddying Leachman’s reputation (cough cough) but YEARS ago he was noted for being not quite ‘upright’ in his cattle production. That was 20 years ago. Hadn’t kept up with him since then.


  5. I hope other judges will follow suit in this trial! Make an example of him and his cruelty to these animals that can’t speak for themselves. I hope he is denied water and medical treatment in jail!


    • Uhhh…I like the smell of well cared for cattle.

      As to the “good riddance to the horses and society”?…I respectfully disagree.


      • Let me qualify….if you mean horses and society will be better off without him…I get it, but he ain’t gonna’ go away because there are more to fill his putrid shoes. I think we can start with his son and the Colorado Cattlemen Association.

        And cattle. like equines smell good walking the right side of the grass, of course.


  6. BTW…what in the H*LL is one person going to do (or just plain doing) with 400-800 equines?!?!

    Oh, please! I smell the double-deckers firing up to haul, torture equines and sell poison meat…TO HUMANS!

    And if the Native Peoples’ “Apsáalooke” (in this case Crow to the invaders) made some sort of “deal” with this cretin….they have done more than kill equines….they have killed their culture and done great injury/assaulted the Great Spirit.


  7. At last, justice rules. I hope jail is everything they say it’s “cracked” up to be for him. I work in a prison so I know how other inmates treat animal abusers. Hopefully the population will find out soon enough and he will pay the price of being a cruel, distorted buttheadd.


  8. What all of the states need to do is pass animal cruelty laws that include horses, mules and donkeys that if a person is caught committing it is a automatic felony. If Alaska can pass this law the rest off the country can do it too.


  9. I’m with Steve—-how come equal justice under the law does not extend to BLM? Obama “promised” that every one must live by, and be judged by the same rules. Were there exceptions for federal agencies? BLM is not dealing in wood chips—but in sentient, wild animals. I’m sure that at least 4 wild horses have died or been injured/abused recently while in BLM care. What’s wrong with this picture? Let me tell you where I’d put those constricting bands……


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