The court case for a former Stonyford resident accused of animal cruelty in relation to the unlawful killing of two cows on Leesville-Lodoga Road earlier this year was continued to Dec. 6, at 8:30 AM.
Tucker Michael Otterson, 28, who currently resides in Oregon City, OR, was set to appear in the Colusa County Superior Court last Wednesday to make a decision on whether to accept a plea deal offered by the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office.
Otterson’s defense attorney, David R. Nelson, appeared on behalf of his client. Nelson said his client was unable to appear in person after being snowed in by a storm in Oregon.
Nelson asked for the continuance, explaining that he had received the pre-sentencing report from the Colusa County Probation Department late, and said that he needed more time to look over the report and discuss it with his client.
Judge Jeffrey Thompson said that the court had received the report late as well. Thompson also pointed out that the report included letters to the court from community members who were urging the court to “act in a certain way.” Once the court realized what those letters were, Thompson said, the court did not read them.
“The court will not be lobbied by members of the community,” Thompson said, adding that the letters would should not have been included in the report, and ultimately would not be considered in Otterson’s sentencing.
As for the plea agreement on the table for Otterson, the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office offered to dismiss all but one of the seven charges against him on a Harvey Waiver, that being a single felony count of cruelty to animals. A Harvey Waiver allows the court to consider the dismissed charges during sentencing. Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp previously said that it will also allow for the payment of restitution for damages incurred by the owners of the cows.
Otterson was initially charged with two counts of felony cruelty to an animal, one of which included an enhancement for use of a firearm, felony grand theft for stealing the head of one of the animals, along with two misdemeanor charges of vandalism of private property, misdemeanor hit and run, and misdemeanor obstructing or delaying a peace officer.
If Otterson agrees to take, and the presiding judge agrees to accept, the plea agreement offered by the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office, the maximum sentence for the animal cruelty charge alone could be up to a year in county jail. Because the charges dismissed on a Harvey Waiver can be factored into his sentencing, Otterson could end up being sentenced to a greater term. As a convicted felon, Otterson would be barred from owning or possessing firearms for any purpose. He previously received a lifetime ban from hunting by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife following a previous incident involving alleged animal cruelty and the unlawful take of game animals.