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Man facing animal cruelty charges in deaths of 10 horses appears in court

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-25 20:15:28-05

MAGNA, Utah -- The owner of 10 horses found dead in a Magna pasture last July appeared in court Wednesday for a pre-trial conference, and the accused and his attorney are seeking to have the charges against him dismissed.

Shamus Haws faces 11 animal cruelty charges after 10 horses were found dead due to dehydration last year, and he told FOX 13 News off-camera that he believes the facts of the case have been misreported. Haws and his attorney are planning to file a motion to have all charges against him dismissed, saying they have an animal expert who can testify that Haws provided the animals with the care he was required to.

Dennis Morgan made the discovery of the horses last year after what he described as the smell of death coming from the field near his backyard.

“It's actually sickening, get a little emotional because we saw them die, ya know,” he told FOX 13 News in July of last year.

The horses belonged to Haws. Horses are considered property and there was no evidence of intentional harm; the district attorney filed misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

“This is not that anybody found any evidence of any intentional wrongdoing or torturing or harming these animals, this was an accident, but it is an accident that the law says you have a responsibility for,”  Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said last year.

Haws’ attorney says the man has an animal expert that will show the standard of care was met for those horses and the case against Haws should be dismissed. The attorney told FOX 13 News his client is as upset as anyone over the deaths of the horses.

Haws could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750 for each of the 11 counts of animal cruelty he faces. The judge in the case will read over expert opinions from both sides, and on April 10 Haws will be back in court--where the judge will decide whether to dismiss the charges or proceed to trial.