Former international bloodstock agents Otis Wayne Murty and Anson Duane Murty have each pleaded not guilty to seven counts of second-degree animal cruelty after several neglected horses were found to be under their ownership.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the twin brothers entered not-guilty pleas July 29 in Woodford District Court. They are scheduled to appear again before Judge Vanessa Dickson Aug. 19 after they have hired attorneys.
Between 24 and 30 horses, including mares and foals owned by the 77-year-old brothers, were found July 2 to be malnourished and shut in feces-filled stalls at Hopewell Farm near Midway, Ky. The Murty brothers were leasing part of the property from its previous owner, Richard Trontz. The farm was sold at auction July 16.
Two of the horses were in such bad condition they had to be euthanized. According to an arrest warrant filed in Woodford County, "Necropsy reports indicated these two horses were emaciated at the time of death."
The warrant states that another one of the Murtys' horses was found dead July 10 after it was relocated to Bourbon County. "Wayne Murty and his brother each had said that a vet had recommended that this horse should have been humanely euthanized months ago, but they simply could not bring themselves to do so," the warrant reads.
The remaining horses were put under quarantine and their conditions are being monitored.
The warrant claims both brothers accepted responsibility for the daily care of the horses, with Wayne Murty acknowledging he was the one in charge of decisions. Duane Murty was living in a trailer on the Hopewell Farm, according to the Herald-Leader.
The Murtys were arrested July 25. Duane Murty was released from the Woodford County jail after posting bond, but the jail website the afternoon of July 30 showed Wayne Murty was still incarcerated.
According to the Herald-Leader, Wayne Murty claimed the horses became sick after consuming a poisonous weed called creeping buttercup.
In Kentucky, second-degree animal cruelty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.
Hopewell was formerly a breeding, foaling, and sales prep operation encompassing nearly 600 acres in the heart of the Bluegrass in Woodford County, Ky. It was auctioned off in three tracts July 16, with PNC Bank buying the lion's share of the property and Lexington neurosurgeon Dr. Matthew Tutt purchasing 43.27 acres.
Hall of Fame member and 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Skip Away spent his stallion career at Hopewell until his death in 2010.