The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Editorials

June 14, 2014

Editorial: Animal cruelty plea bargain could be good -- or bad

Plea bargains can be a great tool to save time and money while reaching a fair conclusion to a criminal court case.

But plea bargains can sometimes be a disservice to the public.

Let’s hope for the former in the case of Daniel and Carrie Ault, who together face 15 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of child neglect and 96 counts of improper disposal of a dead animal.

Each time the Aults’ case moves through the justice system, all of the gory, horrifying details have to be trotted out.

Here it goes again:

Alerted by people who had smelled a rancid odor, police investigated the Aults’ farm near Summitville in April 2013. They found 171 farm animal carcasses strewn about, with 165 emaciated farm animals surviving among the dead.

They also found two small children at the farm, and investigators allege the children were not being properly cared for.

Daniel Ault has said that he became so busy with helping at the Strawtown auction and running his meat-packing business in Grant County, that he didn’t have the time to take care of the animals. And, he said, he didn’t have the necessary equipment to dispose properly of the carcasses.

The Aults, who pleaded not guilty in May 2013, recently decided to forgo their right to a trial, instead opting for a disposition hearing set for July 29. The scheduling of that hearing indicates that the prosecution and the Aults’ defense are close to a plea agreement.

As noted before, this could be a good thing -- or a bad one.

People who love animals and believe they should be treated humanely, and that should include everyone, will want to see the Aults prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. A figurative slap on the wrist won’t be nearly enough.

The impending plea bargain could save the county time and money, and could keep the sordid details of this case from being repeated and repeated and repeated ...

But if the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, nobody will be happy.

More online For related news articles about the Ault farm case, visit heraldbulletin.com and search for "Ault farm."

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