Horse killed for cash?

Published 8:12 pm Monday, June 16, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
An emotional Renee Jones called for stiffer penalties for violence against animals Friday at a press conference announcing the arrest of a Flomaton woman accused of killing a show horse for insurance money.
Jones, who serves as the cruelty to animal's investigator for the Escambia County Humane Society, told those gathered at Flomaton Town Hall the death of show horse Abby was intentional by the owner, Brenda Gradia.
Gradia, the owner of the horse, has been charged with animal cruelty, arson and two counts of attempted theft by deception and one count of theft by deception.
Ed Faulk, Alabama state fire marshal, said the death of the horse led to Gradia's arrest following initial investigation by Flomaton police officers.
Flomaton Police Chief Mike Lambert said his department knew the case was over their head based on the evidence found at the scene of the fire.
Faulk said his department's investigation turned up evidence that required a post mortem examination be performed on the animal.
Dr. Brad Fields with the department of Agriculture and Industries for the state of Alabama, said the case continued through his agency with a post mortem examination.
Fields said his department would pursue avenues to stop the acts of cruelty.
Jones said stiffer penalties for animal cruelty need to be in place to stop acts of violence against animals.
Lambert said Gradia owned seven horses at the time of the fire including Abby.
Gradia faces a sentence of two to 20 years if found guilty of arson in this case. The theft by deception charge is a Class B felony while the attempted theft and the animal cruelty charges are misdemeanors.
Officials say Gradia fraudulently collected $30,000 for the death of a horse in December 2007. Abby was insured for $100,000.

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