James Kingcade and Deborah Kingcade face 12 second-degree and three first-degree charges of animal abuse after the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Department seized 14 horses from their horse rescue operation in May 2016.
Witnesses allege the horses were malnourished and in poor physical condition. The Kingcades have claimed the horses were in poor condition when rescued.
Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks found the Kingcades in contempt after they were late to return to trial after a recess by several minutes. Sparks had warned the couple several times in the past not to be late to court and fined them $100 each.
Deputy Prosecutor Jodi Hammond also alleged that the couple sent messages through Facebook to one witness and verbally threatened another who testified Thursday. Sparks said those charges could be added by the prosecution later.
During afternoon testimony, James Kingcade was observed making rude gestures with his finger toward members of the audience.
Nine witnesses Thursday spoke about the alleged mistreatment of the horses and the condition of the Emerald City Thoroughbred Project. Aine Morris of Blaine said she first became involved with the Kingcades when she purchase a horse named Eve that was rejected at auction.
Eve was lame, and Morris said she was concerned about the horse’s health. She wanted the horse to be seen by a veterinarian and to see if she would need to be put down.
“I like thoroughbreds and I feel they are deserving of a proper retirement,” she said.
Morris had Eve boarded at a ranch in Puyallup while the horse was waiting to get checked out by a vet, she said. She didn’t want to move the horse too far in case it needed to be euthanized. But the woman she boarded the horse with sent it to the Emerald City Thoroughbred Project without her permission.
Morris said she attempted to contact the Kingcades, but they refused to relinquish the horse. She then had to hire an attorney to retrieve the horse. She had a veterinarian sent to the Kingcades’ property and was informed by the veterinarian that Eve was in such poor condition she shouldn’t be moved.
When Morris finally got Eve away from the rescue she had lost a significant amount of weight and her hooves had not been trimmed.
“She had lost a lot of weight, because we could see her ribs,” she said. It did not appear that she was getting proper nutrition, she said.
The horse has since recovered substantially.
Kristeen Foote, a friend of the Kingcades, was boarding two of the Thoroughbred Project’s horses, Trixie and Bella, at her house. Foote’s son had volunteered for the Thoroughbred Project and she had assisted the Kingcades.
When the nonprofit first started, the horses were in good health, Foote said. They had an excellent property for animals to graze off state Route 970 and nonprofit seemed successful. But the Kingcades eventually had to leave that property.
“When they moved them off that property, everything started going downhill,” she said.
The Kingcades moved their rescue to the Teanaway, then Kittitas, then to Ellensburg, then to Selah and then to South Cle Elum, never staying at one place for very long, Foote said. Before the Kingcades moved to Ellensburg they boarded out their horses while looking for a new place and so Foote took possession of Trixie and Bella for a few weeks.
Foote fell in love with Trixie and wanted to adopt her, she said. She returned Trixie and Bella to the Kingcades that winter and continued to provide hay for the horse. She attempted to check on the horse, but was told it wasn’t a good time or wasn’t able to get to where the horse was located.
Foote finally got to see Trixie and Bella in March when the two horses broke down the fence to get to her and her husband, she said. Trixie had a blanket on her back that Foote had given her months before. It appeared the Kingcades had never removed it.
“When I took the blanket off I saw sores all over my horses’ back,” Foote said. “I saw she had many, many pounds off. I don’t know how many, maybe 200, but she was down to the bones.”
After the Sheriff’s Office seized the horses, Foote adopted Trixie and she has since made a full recovery. The horse is old and Foote learned she needed to be fed soaked oats to gain weight.
Foote used to be a close friend of the Kingcades, spending time with them and taking them shopping. But she started to have her suspicions that the Kingcades weren’t being honest about the condition of the horses after vets came to look at them.
“I wanted to believe her, she said, ‘all my horses are sick with parasites,’” she said. “But they just weren’t getting any better. They always had an excuse.”
Natalie Torget, a board member of the Emerald City Thoroughbred Project, said she used to volunteer with the nonprofit starting in 2010 and worked with the Kingcades for years. When the rescue started it was a well-functioning organization with 10 to 12 horses.
The Kingcades eventually moved the rescue operation and Torget continued to volunteer. The next property they went to on the North Fork Teanaway Road had problems including a fence in poor condition and no shelter from the weather. In 2013 the Kingcades asked Torget to become a board member and she agreed.
“I did it for the horses. I did it to be able to help them as much as I could,” she said.
When the Kingcades moved to Ellensburg she lost contact with them and stopped going to see the horses, and was not informed when they moved to Selah.
“They were very thin. I was concerned they weren’t being fed,” she said.
Torget started to receive calls from people concerned about the health of the horses. She had a friend drive her by the Kingcades’ home and most of the horses were covered in blankets. Those that weren’t looked very thin.
She began to be concerned that the rescue operation wasn’t legitimate. Since she was still a board member she decided to file a report with police.
“Horses would leave and then come back,” Torget said. “She was claiming the owners weren’t feeding them, but the horses were fine when they returned.”
CHOICE FACEBOOK COMMENTS
Katie Merwick - And the detail the paper doesn't give you about the Kingcaides "unsuccessfully dismissing their attorneys" is - Jim yelled at his attorney "YOU'RE F&%^#(ING USELESS. And the Attorney replied something like "I don't even want to defend you...." or I can't even defend you... I'm paraphrasing, but I WISH I could have been there for that hilarious moment.
Katie Merwick - They showed photos of what was found when they searched their home.. crack paraphernalia and Adderall (not prescribed to them), with a mortar (crush it to powder) and straw - they're snorting Adderall. Well, that explains a lot. money for drugs but not hay.
(Daily Record News - July 21, 2017)
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