Veterinarian prevails at cow mistreatment trial

June 20, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Howard County jury has cleared a veterinarian of criminal charges that he mistreated a cow at his Mount Airy farm in January 1992.

The Circuit Court jury of six men and six women deadlocked on a charge of mistreatment of a second cow after seven hours of deliberation. The trial lasted three days.

The veterinarian, Richard John Burroughs, 51, had been convicted in District Court in May 1993 of mistreating both cows. He was fined $500 and given a probationary sentence that called for him to give 350 hours of community service.

He appealed his conviction to Circuit Court. The jury's not-guilty verdict Friday night clears Dr. Burroughs of the first charge, but the deadlock on the second charge means that the county still could prosecute him in that case. If the county chooses not to prosecute, the case will be dropped.

Dr. Burroughs was charged after the cows were found at a barn he owns in the 18100 block of Penn Shop Road. He was accused of failing to provide the animals with nutritious food, care, water, air, space, shelter and protection from the weather.

The cows, a 12-year-old Jersey and a 9-year-old Hereford, are now in good health on a farm in Staunton, Va.

In closing arguments, Daniel Green of Eldersburg, attorney for Dr. Burroughs, said testimony from prosecution witnesses had numerous inconsistencies.

Mr. Green noted that Timothy Grove, a former warden with the county Animal Control Office, testified that the cows' water supply was frozen when he found them. But the defense attorney said weather records show it reached 50 degrees the day he was at the farm. He added that a videotape taken of the cows at Dr. Burroughs' farm shows them drinking.

In addition, veterinarians who examined the cows and their food supply conducted tests that were inadequate and provided inaccurate results, Mr. Green contended.

Mr. Green told the jurors Dr. Burroughs had been treating the Hereford for a disease that caused the cow to stop eating and lose weight. He added that little was wrong with the Jersey, other than its age.

Assistant State's Attorney Mary Murphy said barbed wire scattered in the cows' pens may have caused the Hereford to contract the disease. It develops when a cow ingests metal, according to testimony.

Ms. Murphy said the Hereford was so emaciated its ribs were visible. She said the Jersey lacked fat and muscle.

She noted that Mr. Grove, now with the state Department of Natural Resources, testified that the Hereford could not reach food or water because it was tied with a rope.

A veterinarian who examined the cows found that the hay they were fed was at least 2 years old, discolored and offered little nutritional value, Ms. Murphy said.

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