Not guilty plea entered in horse case

Published 11:01am Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The reported owners of the six horses found dead in February who were each charged with 21 counts of mistreating animals were in Otter Tail County District Court Tuesday for a hearing. One of the owners pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Penny Fick pleaded not guilty Tuesday to all charges. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 3. Bill Fick’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 29.

Bill Karl Fick, 47, and Penny Lynn Fick, 38, both of Vergas, face one felony count, one gross misdemeanor count and 19 misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals.

Penny Fick’s son William Vance Tompkins, also known as Billy Vance Tompkins, 19, of Owasso, Okla., was reportedly supposed to care for the horses. He remains in jail and was charged in Otter Tail County District Court with one felony count, one gross misdemeanor count and three misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges July 8.

According to the criminal complaints, Bill and Penny Fick were the owners of six horses that were found dead on the property at 31327 430th St. in rural Vergas when authorities executed a search warrant Feb. 26.

Eleven live horses were found, ranging in age from less than a year old to 18 years old. They were “dangerously thin” and weak due to malnutrition and dehydration, according to the report.

No food source was allegedly available and a 100-gallon water tank was frozen next to a non-functional heater.

Neighbors told authorities the animals hadn’t been cared for since the Ficks left in December 2012, the report says. The property owner is Bill Fick’s mother.

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