A father and son who were charged in late 2009 with animal cruelty after nearly 100 dead or dying animals were found on their property on Jim Cummings Highway entered "no contest" pleas in Cannon County Circuit Court Friday.
Both Charles Eugene Howland and his son, Charles Clinton Howland, pleaded "no contest" to one count of aggravated cruelty to animals and two counts of cruelty to animals.
The Howlands were arrested on Nov. 24, 2009 after the discovery of 84 dead and dying horses on their Woodland property.
The case sparked huge statewide and national interest at the time as over 80 horses and scores of dogs, goats, chickens and other animals were also removed from the Howland's property.
The animals were seized by the Humane Society of the United States following an investigation by the Cannon County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
At the time of their arrest, Scotlund Haisley, Senior Director for Emergency Services for the Humane Society, said dead and starving horses, totaling approximately 84, were found on the property.
Officials found at least 15 dead horses on the Howlands' 100-acre farm.
The Howlands subsequently surrendered the surviving animals to the Humane Society. Most were adopted.
The Howlands were indicted in May of this year on animal cruelty charges by the Cannon County Grand Jury.
Judge Robert E. Corlew sentenced both Howlands to serve probation for two and a half years. They were also ordered to not own any dogs or cats, allow their probation officer or the sheriff's department to check on their horses while they are no probation, and to pay court costs.
A "no contest" plea means the person does not refute the charges, but also does not claim guilt for the charges. However, while the person charged with the crime is not pleading guilty or contesting the charges, he or she is often considered guilty when pleading no contest.
The results of other cases heard by Judge Corlew Friday included:
• Daniel Ryan Matheny pled guilty to violation of probation. He was ordered to serve his original 2 year sentence and was given credit for time served. As a result of his plea, the state agreed to dismiss pending charges of domestic assault and underage consumption Matheny was facing from an incident which occurred in May.
• Deborah Nokes pled guilty to violation of probation. She was ordered to serve her original 2 year sentence.
• Britney Watlington pled guilty to violation of probation. She was ordered to serve 60 days in jail and will then be placed back on probation for 2 years.
• Crystal McMahan was found guilty of violation of probation by Judge Corlew following a hearing. She was ordered to serve 6 months in jail and then will be placed back on probation for 3 years.
• Cynthia Taylor pled guilty to violation of probation. She was ordered to serve 1 year in jail and upon release will be placed back on probation for 4 years, 6 months.