Guilty Plea For Cruelty Charges

MOUNDSVILLE – Kevin Strope is not permitted to own animals for the next 80 years and will serve 15 days in jail for animal cruelty.

Strope, 53, pleaded guilty Friday to a 16-count information document filed in Marshall County Circuit Court. The charges stem from a Dec. 31, 2011, investigation into dead cattle found on Strope’s farm near Cameron.

According to the criminal complaint, sheriff’s deputies and Marshall County humane officers found 10 dead bovines, one that had been down for several days and 13 others that were in poor condition. The complaint states Strope told officers the animals had begun to die three weeks earlier and that he was considering whether to call a veterinarian or get rid of the cattle.

A veterinarian determined the cattle were starving, either from “parasites, poor quality of hay or a number of other possible reasons.” He told deputies the remaining cattle needed protein and hay immediately, though several of the remaining animals were past the point of saving.

On Friday, Strope pleaded guilty to the charges, saying he was unsure what to do when the cattle started to die Dec. 21, 2011. As part of the plea agreement, he was sentenced to 20 days in jail on each charge for a total of 320 days, with 305 of those days suspended.

Strope will serve 15 days in the Northern Regional Jail on weekends, which will allow him to continue working at his job. He also must pay a $300 fine for two of the counts, or $600 total.

The remaining 13 cattle will be officially given to the individual who had been taking care of them over the past year as a means of compensation. The transfer of those animals will cover all costs of veterinary care and will serve as restitution.

Marshall County Prosecutor Jeff Cramer said the only issue not covered in the plea agreement was that of the length of time Strope is not allowed to own or care for animals. Cramer argued because Strope acted negligently in not calling a veterinarian and allowing the cattle to die, he should not be allowed to own an animal for the maximum of five years per charge, or 80 years total.

Strope’s attorney, Donald Tennant, said Strope has spent his entire adult life caring for cattle and that he was genuinely sorry and confused as to why the animals died.

“He genuinely doesn’t understand what he had done wrong in feeding those cows,” Tennant said, adding Strope was unsure if their condition was caused by lack of food or disease.

Circuit Judge Mark Karl ruled Strope cannot own any animal for 80 years, though he said he would revisit the matter in two years at the end of Strope’s probation period.