Kiefer gets six months in horse neglect case
By Jenny Michael
A district judge has sentenced William Kiefer to six months in jail in the starvation deaths of more than 100 horses in Burleigh and Morton counties.
Kiefer pleaded guilty on Aug. 2 to nine counts of Class A misdemeanor overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals —four in Burleigh County and five in Morton County.
South Central District Judge Tom Schneider on Tuesday, Dec. 31, sentenced Kiefer to one year in jail with six months suspended. The sentence can be served in jail or on electronic monitoring. Kiefer also will be on supervised probation for two years after completion of his sentence. He must pay $300 per county, plus another fee per charge. Kiefer also must pay a $750 fine in each county to either a humane society or Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue, which took in many of the horses in the case and helped get them adopted. Kiefer cannot own livestock during his two years on probation. His jail/monitoring sentence will begin Jan. 9.
The Tuesday hearing was the third sentencing hearing scheduled in the case. Schneider ordered a presentence investigation be conducted after Kiefer pleaded guilty, and sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 10. That hearing was rescheduled to Dec. 5 to allow more time for completion of the presentence investigation and a psychiatric evaluation. Then, the Dec. 5 hearing was rescheduled because of weather and road conditions.
In late January 2013, officials in Morton and Burleigh counties seized more than 150 horses and mules from properties owned by Kiefer after finding 96 dead animals on property northwest of New Salem and three dead on pasture east of Bismarck. Several other animals later died.
Kiefer is accused in both the Burleigh County and Morton County cases of failing to provide necessary food, water and shelter to his animals.
According to a complaint in the Morton County case, one count of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals is in response to a group of horses and mules found dead on a hilltop in the pasture northwest of New Salem, another count is for animals found dead in a barn and a third count is for dead animals in a Quonset and nearby trailer. A fourth count is for animals found dead in a hay yard, while the fifth count is for all the surviving animals.
Three of the charges in Burleigh County are for animals found dead on Kiefer’s property, and the fourth charge is for the surviving animals.
Before Schneider ordered the presentence investigation, attorneys in the case recommended Kiefer be sentenced to one year in jail on all of the charges, with all but 120 days suspended, two years of supervised probation and court fees. The 120 days could be served on electronic monitoring.
The maximum sentence for each of the charges is one year in prison.