Mustang killers judge called 'boneheads' busted for illegal trapping in Nevada
March 17, 2012
By Scott Sonner, AP, TheRepublic.com
RENO, Nev. — Two Nevada men called "boneheads" by a U.S. judge
when he sentenced them to six months in prison for shooting
federally protected mustangs may be headed back behind bars for
Joshua Keathley and Todd Davis are
scheduled to appear in a Washoe County Justice Court on March 21 on
a misdemeanor citation for failure to visit steel leg-hold traps
within 96 hours — a state law intended to help minimize the
suffering of animals whose feet are snared in the spring-loaded,
If they plead guilty, the two Lovelock men face
a penalty of up to $192 each in fines and court costs, state
wildlife officials said. More serious is the possibility they could
be found to have violated the terms of their parole.
have notified the feds and have been cooperating with them," Chris
Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, told The
Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the
U.S. Attorney's Office in Las Vegas, confirmed federal parole
violation charges are pending against the men but said she could not
comment further because the charges were sealed.
The men are
scheduled to appear on "revocation proceedings" in federal court in
Reno on April 18 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid Jr.,
court records show.
McQuaid is the same judge who berated
them when he sentenced them for the November 2009 killing of five
wild horses 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," McQuaid said at the
sentencing Nov. 3, 2010. "Drunken and boneheaded is not an excuse."
Daniel Bogden, U.S. attorney for Nevada, said at the time his
office was swamped with as many as 8,000 e-mails from "all over the
world" urging maximum prosecution of the two men.
prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami, said one of the most
"disturbing and "cold-hearted" parts of the crime was the shooters'
total disregard for the animals after they were shot and left to
"Any hunter knows that when you go hunting, you want a
clean shot" that kills the animal quickest, Fahami said.
John Springgate, a Reno lawyer for Keathley in the horse killing
case, confirmed he would represent him in the federal proceeding but
declined further comment. Todd Plimpton, a Lovelock lawyer for
Davis, did not immediately respond to emails or telephone calls.
Davis, 45, and Keathley, 37, completed their prison terms last
May but remain on probation through May 10, 2012, Collins said.
Last month, they were in the high desert about 25 miles northwest of
Gerlach — not far from where they had shot the horses — when a state
game warden caught up with them and cited them for a trapping
Wildlife officials, aided by a special agent for
the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, determined it had been seven
days since the two men had checked their trap line.
animals were found in the traps, which could be used to capture
bobcats, foxes or other small animals. Some animals left in traps
for long periods of time have been known to gnaw off legs to escape.
State trapping laws are hard to compare because of variations
in seasonal wildlife populations, but Nevada's requirement that
traps be checked every 96 hours — four days — is one of the most
lax in the nation, according to a recent report by the Association
of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
More than half the states
require leg traps be checked daily and another dozen require visits
every 72 hours, said the association's most recent summary of
trapping regulations for fur harvesting in the United States in
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