Teenager Gets 6 Months in Horse Shootings

A Central California teenager received six months of juvenile hall confinement in connection with the shooting deaths of five horses earlier this year, including a yearling half-brother to the grade I winning filly Leave Me Alone.

If he serves the full six months Scott Andrew Wood, 16, of Sanger, will have spent 369 days in custody since his arrest April 1 for the March shooting spree, according to prosecutor Stephanie Savrnoch. Fresno County Superior Court Judge Gary Hoff, in an open juvenile court sentencing hearing Oct. 6, also sentenced Wood to 1,000 hours of community service.

Wood and his family could also be required to pay restitution to the victims, among them neighboring breeders Old English Rancho and Elmer January. In addition to Leave Me Alone's sibling, Old English Rancho lost a second Thoroughbred yearling. January lost a pair of 3-year-old Thoroughbred fillies. The county probation department is to make a recommendation on restitution in the next couple of weeks, Savrnoch said.

Hoff relied on a probation report's recommendation in meting out the sentence to Wood, who was convicted of 17 felonies but had no prior criminal record. Savrnoch sought maximum incarceration at the California Youth Authority, which would have been until Wood is 25.

Savrnoch was critical of the sentence because, she said, Wood has shown no remorse for the crime nor acknowledged any culpability.

"Wood has never admitted to anything," she said. "In fact at one meeting with the probation department psychologist he refused to say a single word to the doctor. Yet they recommended 180 days in juvenile hall. The judge said it was a very close call."

Following a nine-day trial in August, Hoff found Wood responsible in the shooting of seven horses over a three-day period, five fatally. In spite of his age, Wood was tried in open court because the charges included the use of a firearm, a .22 caliber rifle, in the commission of felony acts.

Leave Me Alone captured Saratoga's Test (gr. I) Aug. 6. Her yearling half-brother was sired by In Excess out of the Johnston family's mare Fabulous Ballet (by Moscow Ballet). He was one of two yearlings shot to death at his breeder's farm as they grazed in a pasture March 12. A third Old English Rancho yearling was nicked by a bullet but was not seriously injured.

Wood was convicted of one count of shooting within 1,000 feet of a school, one count of negligent discharge of a firearm, seven counts of felony vandalism, and eight counts of animal cruelty, all felonies. In addition, there were 10 enhancements to the other counts for use of a firearm.