Tucker Michael Otterson, a former Stonyford resident who resides in Oregon City, OR, will be charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty, felony grand theft for stealing the head of one of the animals, vandalism of private property, delaying a peace officer in an investigation, and hit and run causing property damage, Colusa County District Attorney Matthew Beauchamp said. The latter three charges are misdemeanors.
“We’re going to be filing charges on Otterson today… related to the cows found on Feb. 9 on Leesville-Ladoga Road… and we will be asking for a warrant for his arrest,” Beauchamp said.
The announcement from Beauchamp on Monday followed months of investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who took over the case from the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our officers, in conjunction with other agencies, investigated the unlawful killing of cattle. Through the investigation, we determined a suspect, and that person is now facing those charges,” CDFW Lt. Chris Stoots.
As was previously reported in this publication, Slim Edwards – who provided the Pioneer Review with pictures of the mutilated cows – came upon the animals while he was driving his daughter to a school bus stop. Edwards said at the time that the cows were placed in the middle of the road and appeared to have been struck by a vehicle; one appeared to have been dragged for a considerable distance. He also said that county roadsigns appeared to have been placed over each of the cows.
The three pictures provided by Edwards showed both cows – one without a head – the roadsigns, and a stream of blood-tinged rainwater running down the road.
Otterson has a well-documented history with CDFW, having appeared on national television on an episode of “Wild Justice,” a now-canceled reality television show on the National Geographic Channel that documented the activities of state wildlife officers. Otterson was referred to as “the catch of a lifetime” by state game wardens on the show in “Born to Kill,” an episode that aired in Jan. 2011. State game wardens searched Otterson’s Indian Creek Ranch in Oct. 2010.
At that time, Otterson was accused of five counts of cruelty to an animal, in addition to seven misdemeanor Fish and Game Code violations. On July 18, 2011, Otterson pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges of unlawful capature, possession or confinement of wildlife; unlawful taking of game; and unlawful use of a dog to hunt, pursue, or molest a bear. He was sentenced to 36 months of formal probation and 120 days in the Colusa County Jail. He was also barred from owning or possessing firearms and owning a dog.
Otterson violated his probation later that year, when he was arrested for corporal injury to a cohabitant and driving under the influence. Charges in that case were filed on Nov. 1, 2011. The charges included a number of special allegations, including driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or greater. Each of the charges against him were dismissed or stricken, save for a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, as a part of a plea agreement. He received 90 days in Colusa County Jail and was sentenced to three more years of formal probation.
On Nov. 14, 2011, Otterson was accused of violating the terms of his probation again after he was charged with unlawful possession of a creature and taking a deer without a license. He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a creature, and the charge for taking a deer without a license was dismissed as part of a plea agreement. He received six months in Colusa County Jail, and was sentenced to another three years of probation. ■