Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Roy Quiñones, 43 4 horses found dead, several others found ill

San Antonio, TX

Bexar County

February 25, 2005  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Felony evidence tampering, DWI 2 donkeys, 13 horses Convicted Bexar County Court #9

A Bexar County man is facing six counts of animal cruelty after authorities found four dead horses and several others ill on his property.

Complaints from passers by led authorities to a 12-acre property on Jarratt Road, where two donkeys and nine horses were discovered. Most of the animals were malnourished and sick, said Detective Kenneth Vann, of the Bexar County Sheriff's Department.

  Photo courtesy of KSAT - A horse collapses after trying to lead it into a trailer

The owner, Roy Quiñones, blamed a nearby pond contaminated with raw sewage from a leaking septic tank for the animals' illnesses.

But authorities said the animals were also being starved.  "There's no excuse for starving horses like this," said Bill Weatherholtz, of Brighter Days Horse Refuge, where some of the horses will be taken. "And it all ain't that septic."

One of the mares collapsed as it was being loaded into a trailer. The horse later got up and ate some hay.

Vann said Quiñones was keeping the horses so he could apply for an agricultural exemption.  "Which is not good enough reason," Vann said. "I mean, you've got to take care of them."

Quiñones was allowed to keep five horses with the understanding that he could provide care, food and attention for them.

He is scheduled to appear in court March 21.

Update 3/9/05:  A 43-year-old man charged with animal cruelty was arrested and charged on a felony charge of tampering with evidence.

  (Photo courtesy of KSAT - Quiñones after his arrest on tampering with evidence charges)

Roy Quiñones was handcuffed outside his southwest Bexar County home after he refused to tell authorities the whereabouts of two of his horses.

Update 6/3/05:  A man accused of starving his horses on his ranch had his probation revoked on a DWI conviction and was sentenced to five years in prison by a Bexar County district judge.

  Photo courtesy of KSAT - Quiñones appeared in court to answer charges

Quiñones testified that he always had four or five bales of hay on his property at all times.

But prosecutors said the hay was instead fed to cattle and whatever hay was available for horses was moldy and rotten.

The defendant blamed the bad hay on a broken septic tank that he claims contaminated a stock pond on the property.

His explanation apparently didn't convince Judge Mark Luitjen, who lashed out at Quiñones.  "Let me explain something to you," Luitjen said. "I grew up on a ranch and my parents raised quarter horses. We had 75 breed mares and I find that what you're saying ... is absolutely ludicrous."  Luitjen then sentenced Quiñones to prison.

Quiñones still faces charges of animal cruelty and attempted tampering with evidence.

Four of his horses died and seven others are recuperating at a Hill Country ranch.

Update 6/4/05: Quiñones was seven weeks away from completing a five-year probated sentence for his third conviction for driving while intoxicated when he was hauled back into court on a motion to revoke his probation.

After hearing from six prosecution witnesses -- and after Quiñones took the witness stand in his own defense -- 144th District Judge Mark Luitjen ruled Quiñones had violated the first condition of his probation to stay out of trouble by getting arrested. The judge then ordered Quiñones to serve the five-year sentence in prison.

Quiñones' latest run-in with the law occurred over a period of months, witnesses testified, but it reached the point of no return February 25th. That's when two neighbors driving by noticed an extremely thin mare lying on the ground in front of Quiñones' home. Pamela Wiechart testified that she thought the horse was dead, but after watching it for a while from the road, she saw the horse try to get up. ''When we pulled up, it was still thrashing,'' testified Helen Bardin, another neighbor.

Since October, Wiechart said she had called in ''many reports'' of the abuse to the sheriff.

Sheriff's deputies dispatched to investigate the downed horse, reported seeing a total of 10 horses and one donkey on the 10 ½-acre property. Of those, six were reported to be malnourished and were photographed from outside the fence.

Within a week, deputies obtained a search warrant and a court order to seize the horses and turn them over to Brighter Days Horse Refuge in Pipe Creek, but not in time to save the fallen mare.

Quiñones testified the mare likely died sometime the next day, February 26th. He dragged her carcass to the back of the property, where there were already three dead horses, and he set them on fire along with some old tires. He told the judge all four died of colic, a common ailment caused by a blockage in the digestive tract, not starvation. He added that a veterinarian had not seen the horses in as much as two years.

Refuge owner Bill Weatherholtz testified that on March 7th there were nine horses and one donkey remaining on the property. Of those, seven horses were starving, and he was able to catch five and load them into a trailer. A sixth horse could not be caught and the seventh horse -- a black mare named Dolly -- was so weak that she could not get up off the ground and get into the trailer. Weatherholtz says the rescued horses were completely unused to human contact.

The next day, sheriff's investigator Kenneth Vann went out to check on the two remaining horses, including the mare. They were not on the property and Quiñones would not tell him where they were. That's when Quiñones was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence and cruelty to animals.

Vann said the other two horses ultimately were found on a farm a mile and a half away. They were taken to the refuge, where the black mare has fully recovered and another of the seized horses, a gray mare named Faith, gave birth May 20th to a mule foal. Weatherholtz said his wife, Jeanne, named the foal Whoopsie because she was supposed to be a horse, not a mule.

Weatherholtz estimates that each horse has gained about 250 pounds.

Update 7/15/05: Quiñones was a no show in court so a warrant was issued and he now has an additional charge of a fugitive from justice.

Update 8/9/05: Quiñones pled no contest in court and was sentenced to jail and fined $500.00 with an additional cost of $281.00 for court fees. He was released from jail on May 12th, 2006According to court records, Quiñones has been charged with 2 counts of cruelty to animals, Case #: 931457 & 931458. One count of evidence tampering was added to his record on March 8th, 2005, Case #: 2006CR4271 Quiñones was arraigned on March 9th, 2005 and released on a $75000.00 bond of which he was required to pay $2000.00. A bench warrant was issued on October 3rd, 2006. He was booked on October 16th, 2006. He was sentenced on October 20th, 2006 and as of that date he still had not paid the fee's for the animal cruelty charge now totalling $793.00.

Eventually Quiñones was released from jail on November 30th, 2006.

The court records show that Quiñones has not been in the Bexar County Courts since his release.

Reference:

KSAT San Antonio Express-News
Bexar County court records