Lawyers for a Bay View man charged with animal cruelty in a 2018 case in which more than 70 cows died are asking a judge to dismiss some of the charges against him.
Roger Edward Pederson is facing six felony charges for first-degree animal cruelty after the dead cows were found on his property in January 2018.
He also faces one count of second-degree animal cruelty and one count of transporting or confining an animal in an unsafe manner. Both are misdemeanor charges.
Aside from the dead animals, the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office removed about 170 live animals from the property, some of which had to be euthanized or died after being removed.
According to Skagit County Animal Control Officer Emily Diaz, starvation, dehydration and parasites were the likely causes of the deaths, or contributed to the deaths, court documents state.
However, in a motion filed Monday in Skagit County Superior Court, Pederson’s lawyers assert prosecutors cannot prove that all of the cows for which Pederson is facing animal cruelty charges died solely of starvation or dehydration, and that other factors could have contributed to their deaths.
“Experts from both the defense and the state have clearly stated that the parasites could be the underlying cause of the animals’ poor health,” Pederson’s lawyers state in the motion to dismiss four of the eight charges. “However, failure to provide medical care, such as de-worming a cow, is not a felony and does not amount to animal cruelty in the first-degree.”
For one of the deceased cows, Pederson’s lawyers assert that it died after being removed from Pederson’s property, and while it was under the care of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.
Some of the animals removed from Pederson’s property were placed into foster homes in an effort to make them healthy again, Diaz said in court documents. In some of those cases, recovery attempts were unsuccessful due to the animals’ advanced stage of poor health, she said.
Pederson’s lawyers are asking for the misdemeanor transporting or confining an animal in an unsafe manner charge to be dropped, citing lack of evidence.
Instead, they say that when the animals were being transported off Pederson’s property, they — including one that later died of injuries related to trampling — were in the care of the Sheriff’s Office.
In her affidavit of probable cause, Diaz asserts that Pederson’s property — where the cows were kept — was full of downed fences and metal, an unsafe environment for the animals and the people who lived there.
Prosecutors have not yet filed a rebuttal to the motion to dismiss some of the charges. A judge will have to decide whether those charges will be dismissed.