District court

After a preliminary hearing determined cause to proceed with theft charges of a horse against Amanda Rutherford, 41, she will be arraigned on two felony complaints at 9 a.m. Nov. 4 in Dickinson County District Court.

In another complaint, a preliminary hearing for the alleged theft of a handgun and other items was set for 10 a.m., Sept. 21 along with status conferences on four misdemeanor violations.

Magistrate Judge Keith Collett found on Tuesday there was evidence to proceed with a trial on the theft of a buckskin horse and non-residential burglary for the theft of horse feed.

Heather Vanover said at the preliminary hearing on the alleged horse theft, when her husband went to feed the horses on Jan. 10, all of the horses came to eat the grain and hay except the buckskin.

“He searched the pasture for her and could not find her,” Vanover said at the hearing held over Zoom. “That’s when we realized something was wrong.”

She said hoofprints were found leading away from the gate to tire tracks.

Also missing was a bag of feed and a bridle.

Vanover said she met Rutherford in November 2019 when she came to the farm looking to buy a horse. She said no horses on the property were for sale.

Vanover reported the horse missing to the Dickinson County Sheriff’s office that night.

“It was late at night and there was an ice storm. We searched the best that we could on roads in the general vicinity and didn’t find anything,” she said.

The next morning a neighbor contacted her that he had found an unhooked trailer that appeared to be stuck in a ditch.

“A horse that looked like mine, that ended up being my horse, was on that trailer,” Vanover said.

She went to the location just south of 2100 Avenue on Mink Road and found the trailer. There was a log chain tied to a tree that give the appearance that someone had tried to pull the trailer out of the ditch.

“My horse was on the trailer with no food, no water,” Vanover said.

She said a truck with three people then pulled up to the scene.

Deputy Brandon Depew said at the scene were Rutherford and William Grunden.

Charges against Grunden were dismissed along with two domestic battery charges involving Rutherford in a plea agreement for Grunden to plead guilty to two violations of protection orders.

Depew said that Rutherford said she was taking the trailer to get hay and discovered a horse loose. When loading the horse into the trailer, it got stuck. Also, in the trailer was an empty bag of feed similar to the feed brand missing at Vanover’s farm.

Collett said evidence that the horse left the Vanover pasture leading to tire tracks and the bag of feed found in the trailer were probable cause.

“We assume the horse was loaded onto some sort of trailer,” Collett said.

The second felony charge filed in September 2019 of criminal damage to property involved fire damage to a 2019 Chevrolet Malibu on July 17, 2019.

The preliminary hearing on Sept. 21 involved an alleged burglary on Oct. 28, 2019 with intent to steal a firearm, glass jar containing $100, a STIHL chainsaw, 10 pounds of hamburger meat and 4 pounds of bacon.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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