Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dimitt Sentenced for Animal Cruelty

Horse hoof with the "frog" cut from the bottom by Dimitt.

A stamp across the front of the criminal file declares the case “Closed.”

Right after that declaration the message is, “If you witness Robert Dimitt near horses or at a stable or track, document with a photo or video and call the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department at (918) 775-9155 and file a report.”

Long-time horse trainer Robert Howard Dimitt, 59, was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for five counts of animal cruelty, a 20-year suspended sentence and 10 years probation, and a $3,000 fine.

District Judge Jeff Payton delivered the sentence in Sequoyah County District Court, Sallisaw. Dimitt was charged Aug. 20, 2015, with five counts of cruelty to animals after race horses in his care were found dead or mutilated by Charlotte Northam of Ada.

Dimitt had said he cut the frogs from the bottom of horses’ hooves “to make them run faster.” 

Northam is the agent for Kentucky racehorse owner Edward D. Leslie, MD. Northam told the Rate My Horse PRO website that she hopes this case makes horse owners more aware of what can happen when you don’t check on your horses in training.

A retired orthopedic surgeon, Leslie did not attend the sentencing. He did send an impact statement, which read, in part, “Imagine if the skin on the palms of your hands and the muscles of your feet were surgically excised, and you were placed in the middle of an empty Walmart parking lot on a 100-degree Oklahoma summer day.” 

Dr. Leslie’s horses Awesome Ashley, Ashley’s Freight Train and Gold Digging Ashley were trained by Dimitt. Ashley’s Freight Train died without water or veterinary care before her body was burned. She was identified by DNA testing. Awesome Ashley had to be euthanized three weeks after she was found.

Gold Digging Ashley, who was winning at Ruidoso in New Mexico, was saved from death, although her racing career is over. She remains in Northam’s care.

Dimitt changed his plea from not guilty to no contest last month, avoiding the scheduled jury trial. Judge Payton then ordered a pre-sentence investigation, and delivered the sentence Friday.

Judge Payton set a judicial review for Sept. 7. 

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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