ANDERSON — An unprecedented case of alleged animal cruelty that garnered national attention last spring could be resolved next month.
Co-defendants Daniel and Carrie Ault -- who together face 96 counts of improper disposal of a dead animal, 15 counts of cruelty to an animal and two counts of child neglect -- were both in court Monday.
The couple's attorney, Bryan Williams, and Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings agreed to vacate the trial date that had been set for the case in favor of a dispositional hearing, which was scheduled for July 29.
The decision to forgo a trial likely means that the two sides are close to a plea agreement, but Cummings said an agreement hasn't been reached. Williams couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.
The Aults pleaded not guilty after the charges were filed in May 2013.
The charges stem from the discovery of 171 dead and rotting animal bodies and 165 living animals on a farm owned by the Aults along County Road 1700 North near 350 West in Boone Township close to Summitville. On April 9, 2013, investigators inspected the farm.
According to the probable cause affidavit, the dead animals were rotting where they had fallen dead. Smaller animals had been thrown into buckets and were festering. The living animals were sleeping, eating and living among the carcasses, with no clean water. Maleah Stringer, executive director of the Animal Protection League, said the scene was a “nightmare.”
Daniel Ault told police he’d become “overwhelmed” with trying to care for the animals, helping with the Strawtown Auction and running a meat-packing business he owned in Grant County.
Ault told detectives he believed the animals had been dying since November 2012. Investigators say the frigid winter masked the odor of decay, but as the temperatures rose in the spring, the stench of rotting flesh could be detected far from the property.