The Associated Press State & Local Wire July 26, 2002 

Three men plead guilty to animal abuse in beating calf 


Two southwest Missouri men and one from Arkansas have pleaded guilty to felony animal abuse in the Memorial Day weekend beating of a three-week-old calf. Before the plea, no one in the state had ever pleaded guilty or been convicted of felony animal abuse in a case involving livestock, state Humane Society officials said. Brent Colville, 27, of Pineville, Rick Roark, 27, of Anderson, and Jeff East, 22, of Garfield, Ark., pleaded guilty Thursday in McDonald County Associate Circuit Court to one count each of felony animal abuse and misdemeanor animal abuse. They were given suspended sentences, placed on probation for three years, fined $1,000 and ordered to do 300 hours of community service with the Missouri Department of Conservation, McDonald County Prosecutor Steve Geeding said. Geeding said the felony count stemmed from the men dragging the calf around and breaking its spine. The misdemeanor count relates to "mental anguish" suffered by the calf's mother, which apparently witnessed and tried to prevent its abuse. The case marks a first time in Missouri that anyone has been convicted of animal abuse for causing mental anguish to an animal, said Allen Miller, chief statewide investigator for the Humane Society of Missouri. The calf and its mother belonged to Bobby Parish, son of Noel area farmer Bob Parish. The abuse took place May 25 on the Parish along the Elk River. Because of its broken spine, the calf had to be euthanized on May 28. During court proceedings, the defendants gave similar descriptions to the judge about their actions. "We got drunk on the Elk River and went to Bob Parish's farm," Roark said. "We caught a calf and dragged it around, and it had to be put down." "We had too much to drink," Colville said. "We dragged a calf a short distance, and it had to be put down," East said. "We apologized and paid restitution." Geeding said the men got what they deserved considering what they did. He said the fact that none of the three had a prior criminal record played a role in his agreement to let them go without serving any jail time. "I think these guys are not criminals, but they did a criminal act that was not justified by them being drunk in any way, shape or form," Geeding said. "They received a suspended imposition of sentence, but these are still felony convictions and they will remain with them." After their courtroom appearance, East and Roark both complained that the incident had been blown out of proportion. "I'm glad it's over, but it went too far," East said. "It should have been over when we paid restitution to Bob Parish, but it's over." Roark said he was sorry for the problems the men caused the Parish family. "I shook in my boots when we went up to apologize to him," Roark said. "I respect Bob Parish and his whole family a whole lot." Geeding said he dismissed charges against William Ziemianin, 20, of Pineville, after he started cooperating with investigators last week. Ziemianin had been charged with the other three shortly after the incident, but charges were dismissed after all four men said he was not involved in the abuse. Geeding re-filed the charges against Ziemianin when he allegedly lied to investigators and failed to come to the courthouse to provide a statement regarding what happened. Those charges were dismissed Wednesday.