Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New York: Official describes injured sheep’s wounds during Emiliano Zapata's animal cruelty hearing

NEW YORK -- The Town of Montgomery Police Department responded to the farm on Route 416 on Sept. 23, 2015, after a woman reported a sheep staggering across Route 416.

The sheep had a ruptured abscess on its head with "maggots pouring out" of the wound, according to Montgomery's Animal Control Officer Ingrid Anna Ilkiw, a witness called Wednesday during a preliminary hearing in the animal cruelty case of Emiliano Zapata.

A day after that initial call, Ilkiw found the sheep dead at the farm, prompting her to call Hudson Valley SPCA Investigator Eugene Hecht.

Ilkiw was one of four prosecution witnesses who described the horrors they saw at the farm during Wednesday's hearing in Town Court.

Town Justice Edward Souto will determine if Zapata, of the City of Newburgh, will go to trial on multiple counts of neglect and unlawful disposal of animals, misdemeanors under the state's Agriculture and Markets Law. The hearing will continue March 9.

Hecht testified that he sought a search warrant in October after trying to contact Zapata, who was renting the property.

On Oct. 10, 2015, state police helped remove 173 animals from the 300-acre property, including goats, sheep, chickens and pigs, many in need of medical attention. Hecht said there were 20 dead animals.

State Trooper Thomas Garcia testified that a cow's skull and hooves were found in a pile of burned garbage at the farm, resulting in charges of unlawful burning.

Zapata's lawyers, John Ingrassia and Michael Collado, argued that Ilkiw was investigating outside of her jurisdiction: the Town of Montgomery and its three villages.

Ingrassia said there were "warrantless entries" onto the property and "unlawful government conduct" before the warrant was executed.

Zapata previously rejected a plea deal offered by the Orange County District Attorney's Office. He remains at Orange County Jail on an unrelated violation of parole.

The preliminary hearing will continue at 4 p.m. March 13 at Town Court, 18 Bull Road.

(Record Online - Mar 1, 2017)