Woodford County

Woodford County brothers plead not guilty to animal cruelty

Anson Duane Murty, left, and Otis Wayne Murty
Anson Duane Murty, left, and Otis Wayne Murty

Twin brothers have each pleaded not guilty to seven counts of second-degree animal cruelty in Woodford County after emaciated horses were found to be in their care.

Otis Wayne Murty, 77, and his twin brother, Anson Duane Murty, entered not guilty pleas Monday in Woodford District Court. They are scheduled to appear again before Judge Vanessa Dickson on Aug. 19 after they have hired attorneys.

According to an arrest warrant filed in Woodford County, the brothers "jointly had charge" of about 30 horses, including mares and foals, at Hopewell Farm near Midway.

On July 1, complaining witness Susan Jones said she found 24 horses in a barn and five foals in paddocks outside the barn. Five horses were "observed ... to be in an obviously unhealthy state."

In addition, a 2-year-old filly was found "down and dying in the barn," and another 2-year-old filly, "found back out of sight on the property," was found to be down and dying.

"Both horses were deemed not saveable by a veterinarian" and were humanely euthanized, the warrant says. "Necropsy reports indicated that these two horses were emaciated at the time of death."

One of the other five sickly horses was found dead July 10 after it was moved to Bourbon County, the warrant says.

Wayne Murty and his brother "each had said that a vet had recommended that this horse should have been humanely euthanized months ago, but they simply could not bring themselves to do so," the warrant says.

The remaining horses were put under quarantine, and their conditions are being monitored.

"Each defendant accepted responsibility to the daily care of the horses," although Wayne Murty acknowledged that he was in charge, the warrant says. Duane Murty was living in a trailer on Hopewell Farm.

The two brothers were arrested July 25. Duane Murty was released from the Woodford County jail after posting bond, but on Tuesday afternoon, the jail website showed that Wayne Murty was still incarcerated.

Wayne Murty, a once-prominent international trainer, told the Herald-Leader earlier this month that the horses became sick after consuming a toxic weed called creeping buttercup.

Hopewell Farm, former home to 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away, was sold at auction on July 16.

Second-degree animal cruelty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.