Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

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CALGARY — Three men accused of wrongfully shooting a pregnant wild horse near Sundre, Alta., two years ago felt vindicated Wednesday when the Crown dropped the charges in Calgary provincial court.

New evidence showed the mare never was shot, but likely died giving birth or in an accident, and was found dead on the side of the road — about 130 kilometres north of Calgary — by the three men: Jason Nixon, Gary Cape and Earl Anderson.

“I’m glad it’s over for me and my family. It’s all bittersweet, though. It’s not like it’s a great victory,” Nixon said outside court following the decision before Judge Harry Van Harten. “It’s the end of an extremely trying time.”

Nixon said the evidence the defence provided recently to the Crown prompted the RCMP to reinvestigate.

As a result of that, he said, they didn’t think charges were warranted anymore.

“What the evidence said was we never shot a horse, ever,” emphasized Nixon. “What happens was there was a horse . . . that had died on the road. It was a very dangerous spot. I was concerned it was shot and I had some of my staff move it into the ditch.”

Nixon said that nine months later, police surrounded his home and put him in jail. A youth also faces a similar charge, but it is expected the same thing will happen there.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight would not elaborate on any of the evidence that prompted him to stay the charges.

He would only say: “There was not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”

The three men had been scheduled for trial earlier this month, but it was adjourned when the defence revealed the new evidence.

“What happened was they came across a horse that either died in childbirth or had fallen off a hill there,” said Willie deWit, Nixon’s lawyer.

“When they came upon it, they looked to see if there was any evidence it had been shot. There was none, no bullet holes. So they ended up pushing it off the road, as it was a hazard. One of the people with them went to the police and said it had been shot. When in reality, it was never shot at all.”

He added it was several months before the horse was found and it was hard to make any determination what happened.

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originally published by The Calgary Herald | reprinted from Global News


Comments (7)
  • Katie Apr 28 2011 - 11:46 am Reply

    A just society requires a just people.

    In a previous set of comments – one poster contended that the RCMP “must” have had good reason, following their investigation, to arrest the accused. They were wrong. It’s not the first time. It won’t be the last.

    There was no investigation. The horse skeleton recovered had no bullet inside (or around it), no evidence of being shot – couldn’t have – it wasn’t. I’m a wild horse lover – but wild animals die. Happens all the time – to every species. Some deaths are premature, some are accidents, some are caused by other animals, some are caused by humans.

    The problem with the human side though – once someone is accused, the public usually conclude that police had solid evidence. Something like CSI. It’s often not the case – and the accused becomes fodder for every type of verbal and inhuman abuse.

    I would like to see more comments here – apologizing for jumping to conclusions. The Nixons are good people. Their lives have been ripped apart – and all for nothing.

  • William Goodrich Apr 28 2011 - 11:56 am Reply

    Well, now all evidence has been brought forward, maybe we can judge someone else and wreck there lives too. I would think an organization of this stature would be a top notch professional society. Don’t get me wrong, I believe your organization is doing a great job for the animals, I commend you for that. I would hope next time you would not judge anyone before the facts are known. I too would like to see the perpetrators caught and sentenced, but not at the expense of being found guilty before trial. This is not the old west. My prayers go out to the Nixon’s and I truly believe it would be in your best interest to admit your society went overboard on this one. Hmmmm, death threats, loss of numerous jobs, homes taken away from good people, a young lad had the opportunity of a lifetime living in this beautiful valley, all gone. All because media, and organizations all jumped the gun. It was nice too see you posted a small article on your website, but why not put the whole true story out there. Is it a bit embarrassing? At least your lives can go forward. There are more victims than the Nixons and the men accused of this crime, there are also friends and family as well has the horse lovers have all been victimized, as well as the majestic horses that have died for no apparant reason except for ignorance. I am personally asking you to step up to the plate and do the right thing with an apology to all parties and a full article on your website, this would be the right thing for a professional society too do.

    • daisy Apr 28 2011 - 1:04 pm Reply

      We are always interested in the truth, however, in this case, all we have to share with our readers is the news accounts that we reprinted from the Calgary Herald, National Post, and Global News. If there is a “whole true story” we have missed and you would like to share it, we would be interested in hearing it.

  • Katie Apr 28 2011 - 3:02 pm Reply

    Daisy – a part of the “whole true story” is available in the Calgary Herald. It goes into far greater detail on both the accused and the accuser. The Edmonton Journal article printed above just fluffs over the details as if they have no meaning or importance.

    The “whole true story” is actually quite simple. Nixon, Anderson and Cape worked at a rehabilitation center (mountain aire lodge) in the forestry reserve, far from anyone. It was one of the most successful centers in the entire world and saw countless addicts and homeless people completely turned around – long term. But the center had a Zero tolerance policy and quite a few addicts were tossed from the program.

    One of them found out about a reward and made an accusation against the guys who drove him from the rehab center to the city. It was nearly a year after the horse in question had died. The police had no evidence that a crime was committed. They had no bullet, no casing, no evidence that the horse was even shot. Just a skeleton in the trees.

    The police did not investigate before the arrest. They had the “testimony” of a homeless crack addict waiting for his $25,000 reward. That’s all they had. On that basis they arrested 3 men and a little boy. They dragged their name through the mud. The press had a field day. All 4 were guilty. Must have been – they were accused right? The men lost their jobs, their homes and the respect of their communities. They scrapped together funds to pay lawyers and prayed that the courts would hear sense.

    Meanwhile, Daisy only reprinted stories that assumed guilt. Members called for the blood of the 4 accused – even before the trial began.

    Of course, that’s not the whole story – but it’s a start.

    Justice is something we all need to take a bit more seriously – imho. Being accused doesn’t equate with guilt. Never has. Never will. Our wild horses do need protection – but we don’t accomplish that by mistreating our fellow human beings.

    • daisy Apr 28 2011 - 3:36 pm Reply

      Can you send me a link to the Calgary Herald account. I only see the same one we reprinted.

      In the spirit of justice, we want to believe that authorities make an arrest based on investigation and proof. Therefore it is easy for people to make the leap that those arrested are guilty. Sometimes this is not the case, but we have no way to control what other people think.

      Most sadly, there are horse killers still walking free.

      Regarding comments: Comments on this website are accepted from the public. You needn’t be a “member.”

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