Trial begins for woman accused of horse cruelty

Posted Feb. 21, 2011, at 9:50 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The trial of a Dedham woman charged with animal cruelty got under way last Friday but is not expected to resume for another two weeks, according to an attorney involved in the case.

Jean Marie Ahern, 42, is facing two civil charges of cruelty to animals in Ellsworth District Court.

Ahern’s defense attorney, Stephen C. Smith of Bangor, indicated Monday in an e-mail that the prosecution and the defense each called witnesses Friday but have had difficulty scheduling the availability of witnesses, which include veterinarians and others. The trial, which likely will last another half-day, is not expected to resume until March 8 because of scheduling difficulties, he indicated.

Smith also indicated that the state is arguing that Ahern’s horses did not have adequate shelter. He countered, however, that the horses were well cared for and that there was shelter they could be led into.

The “wildly exaggerated” accusations came to a head last October, Smith wrote, when Ahern traveled out of state and friends who were caring for the animals during her absence had trouble getting water to the horses after a water pump broke.

“This really is about some neighbors who didn’t like the horses occasionally getting out,” Smith wrote.

Attempts on Monday, a state holiday, to contact the prosecutor in the case, Assistant Hancock County District Attorney William Entwisle, were unsuccessful.

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