The case involves the seizure of sheep from the the property of James Hamilton in the 4900 block of East 280 North. 70-year old Hamilton faces three class A misdemeanors involving allegations of neglect of animals. The Tuesday hearing concerned probable cause and payment of a maintenance bond. Initially the hearing was going to be in Decatur Superior Court but due to a special judge being appointed to the case the hearing took place in Shelby County before Judge David Riggins. The two hour hearing involved testimony from three Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputies and two Greensburg Firemen, written reports from Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Richards and the State Veterinarian’s Office. According to Decatur Superior Court documents from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health the investigation involved approximately 300 sheep and 2 goats. In that 14-page document, the State Veterinarian concluded that if legally possible, these animals should not be returned to Hamilton. In Tuesday’s hearing, the court confirmed the probable cause for detention and impounding of the sheep and a $25,000 maintenance bond to be paid by the close of business Tuesday. If not paid by that time the animals would become property of Decatur County Animal Control.
James Hamilton, faces three class A misdemeanors involving alleged neglect of animals. According to Decatur Superior Court documents approximately 320 sheep were taken as evidence of animal neglect. A jury trial is set for November 14th in Decatur Superior Court before Judge Riggins. Decatur County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Doug Brown is handling the case for the state and defense is headed up by Michael Cunningham.
Right after the seizure of the animals, the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department released this statement –
On 8/3/22 at 11:47am, Deputy Patrick Richards assisted with a Civil
standby/Court ordered repossession in the 4900 block of East County Road 280 North in
Decatur County. When Deputy Richards arrived, he observed multiple neglected animals,
including several dying and/or deceased animals in various locations on the property.
Deputy Richards contacted the Decatur County Prosecutor’s Office and requested
a search warrant for the property. A search warrant was granted and signed by Decatur
County Superior Court Judge Matthew Bailey.
During the execution of the search warrant, approximately 318 live animals were
removed from the property, 24 animals were deceased upon arrival, and 23 were
euthanized on the scene. The malnourished animals were without food and had very little
available water. Numerous animals were also located on the main floor of the residence
and in the attached garage.
Deputy Richards was assisted by Decatur County Deputies, the Greensburg Fire
Department, Decatur County EMA, the Greensburg Police Department, Decatur
County/Greensburg Animal Control, and Decatur County Board of Health.
Also assisting with the care, feeding, and moving the animals were Triple-R
Equine Rescue, including their multiple volunteers, the Metz Brothers Farm, Soy
Processors, Standard Fertilizer, and The Mike Colson Family. Several community
members also offered resources to assist the animals in need.