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Justice for Duchess

One of the first jury trials to take place in Luzerne County since the pandemic and the first jury trial ever for the SPCA of Luzerne County.

PLAINS, Pa. — A humane officer with the Luzerne County SPCA tells Newswatch 16 this was what Duchess looked like when she served a warrant to take the starving horse away from a property in Wapwallopen in July of 2019

"This horse was showing hip bones, backbones, and ribs. I took a ride out to see for myself that the accusations were actually true," explained Human Society Police Officer Vickie VanGorder. "And they were, you could tell by the human eye, this is, this is absolutely neglect."

Christian Deleur and his girlfriend Sara Cool were charged because of the poor condition of the horse. Cool plead guilty and was sentenced to pay fines and probation, but Deleur opted for a trial by jury, and this week was found guilty of felony animal cruelty charges. Deleur could face up to 14 years in prison.

"The jury deliberated less than an hour, came back, and the jury found him guilty on all counts," explained VanGroder.

The humane officer tells Newswatch 16 Deleur's defense during the trial was that the horse had depression after another horse on the property died and wouldn't eat. But she tells us once the horse was taken into protective custody, that wasn't the case.

"So then, October 30 and all I did was feed her. This is the same mare," said VanGorder as she showed Newswatch 16 a picture was taken a little more than three months after the horse was taken into protective custody and was fed.

Now, the SPCA says the horse is doing very well and will soon be available for adoption.

"Absolutely wonderful she has gained so much weight she's actually an actual loving and normal horse completely different from when I took her the first day," said VanGorder.

If you are interested in adopting Duchess, you can call the SPCA at 570-825-4111 or contact it through its website.

Deleur is scheduled to be back in court for sentencing on November 12.