PINEDALE—Accused horse killer Ryland Haynes, 20, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage last week.
He was sentenced to three days in jail, with credit for three days that he already served, and three years of probation. Other charges against him were dismissed.
On Oct. 11 of last year, Haynes was arrested by the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly shooting dead two horses which were discovered on Sept. 30 of that year near Capps Ranch Road, north of State Route 260 in Pinedale.
According to a press release dated Oct. 1, The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office stated, “The horses had wounds that appeared to be made by small caliber bullets present in the chest area. The horses looked to have been deceased for several days (judging by) decomposition and scavenger presence.”
A few weeks later, a grand jury handed its indictment up to the court, charging Haynes with two counts of criminal damage, two counts of unlawfully killing livestock, all Class 5 felonies, and one count of disorderly conduct with a weapon, a Class 6 felony. Haynes was released from custody on a $5,000 bond.
He and his attorney, Ronald Wood of Show Low, appeared in superior court for a change of plea and proceeded to sentencing right away. Typically in felony cases, the two proceedings are separated: first, the change of plea, then around 30 days later, the sentencing. The reason for the delay is to give time for both sides to research and provide a recommendation to the judge about sentence. But this wasn’t a felony case anymore, merely a misdemeanor, which may account for why the defense attorney signed the plea agreement for the prosecutor, which is unusual.
Haynes was placed on three years of supervised probation. He must remain a law-abiding citizen, not allowed to possess firearms, can’t drink alcohol and has to stay out of bars. He also must pay restitution not to exceed $100,000 if anyone can prove that his criminal act caused them economic loss. Until earlier this month, the law said that parties had to agree on a cap of restitution so that a defendant’s plea could be considered “knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily made,” but the Arizona Supreme Court just changed that on August 4 in the case of EH v. Slayton: parties don’t have to agree on a cap anymore. It’s possible that the agreement in this case was drafted before the new ruling.
If Haynes violates the terms of the misdemeanor probation, he won’t go to prison because prison is not available for misdemeanors, but he could be sentenced to six months in the county jail, less the three days that he’s already served.
This is not the end of legal trouble for Haynes.
He’s been charged in Apache County for three new felonies and five misdemeanors. The new charges are DUI and drug related.
He’s been accused of possessing marijuana, paraphernalia and felony endangerment. Endangerment in Arizona is a felony if it involves “as substantial risk of imminent death,” according to the statute.
He was also charged with furnishing liquor to a person under the legal drinking age. Whether that charge is connected to the endangerment charge will become clear as the case proceeds.
Haynes is presumed by law to be innocent. He has retained Mr. Wood to represent him in the new case and his next court date in Apache County Superior Court is September 23.