Sunday, March 12, 2017

New York: Judge testifies at Emiliano Zapata's hearing in Hamptonburgh animal cruelty case

NEW YORK -- The defense called only one witness - the town's other judge - during a pre-trial hearing Thursday for an alleged 2015 case of animal cruelty and neglect.

In October 2015, state police helped remove 173 animals from a property on Route 416, rented by Emiliano Zapata, of the City of Newburgh.

Many of the animals, including goats, sheep, chickens and pigs, were in need of medical attention.

Another 20 animals were dead and rotting in the fields while body parts of dead, burned animals were found, according to testimony from Hudson Valley SPCA Investigator Eugene Hecht during the first part of the hearing on March 1. Hecht was called to testify by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Town Justice Edward Souto will determine if certain evidence will be suppressed for Zapata's trial on multiple counts of neglect and unlawful disposal of animals, misdemeanors under the state's Agriculture and Markets Law.

Zapata's lawyers, John Ingrassia and Michael Collado, called the town's second justice, Richard Golden, to testify about Hecht's application for a search warrant in October 2015.

Hecht contacted Golden on Oct. 2, 2015, but he did not recall responding to Hecht, Golden testified.

The SPCA's legal counsel said a bordering town's judge can also authorize a warrant, according to Hecht. When both Souto and Golden were unavailable that day, the warrant was signed by the Town of Montgomery Justice Raynard Ozman, Hecht said.

Ingrassia also argued there were unlawful entries onto Zapata's property and "unlawful government conduct" before the warrant was executed.

In January, Zapata rejected a plea deal from the District Attorney's Office. He remains at Orange County Jail on an unrelated violation of parole.

Souto will give his decision on June 28 at Hamptonburgh Town Court.

(Record Online - Mar 9, 2017)