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Matheny Verdict: Guilty

A couple who raised horses at the Oak Dale Stables in Mineral Wells for more than five years was found guilty Friday of three counts of cruelty of animals, all misdemeanor counts.

That in spite of testimony from people who made use of the Oak Dale Stables up to the time numerous animals were seized in early 2003.

"I saw healthy horses," said Arley Drake, who raised them for a living, and who visited the Matheny’s frequently at their stables. "In the absence of hay or grain or proper water, I would not see healthy horses."

In the summer of 2000, WTAP's Jennifer Stacy profiled the stables, telling us about the efforts Deborah Matheny made to bring a horse named Annie back to health.

However, in spite of their successes, financial problems, coupled with Deborah Matheny's injuries from a car accident, apparently made running the stables more and more difficult.

"That's when they should have come forward and said, 'we need help'" Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Jodie Boylen said in closing statements. "By not doing that, they, in

There was testimony about large weight declines in some horses, including a 300-pound weight drop in a 12-year-old thoroughbred horse. Witnesses also said horses were increasingly malnourished, particularly in late 2002.

"The amount of grain they delivered (before July, 2002) was more, said Melissa Wigal, who had several horses at the stables.

"Was it substantially more?," asked Boylen.

"In my opinion, yes," Wigal said.

Deborah Matheny angrily answered Wigal's statements, in remarks, which followed the verdict, while continuing to profess hers and her husband's innocence.

"If anybody didn't feed them, it was Missy Wigal, who stood right here and said she didn't feed them," said Matheny. "And that's the person who should be found guilty."

Wigal, who was in court for the verdict, was given the opportunity to respond to Matheny's remarks, but declined to do so.

The Matheny’s are to be sentenced march nineteenth. They face possible jail time and forfeiture of their horses. We should point out that both Matheny’s were found "not guilty" of cruelty charges regarding ten dogs being kept at the stables.


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