Story - As We Experienced It on December 27, 1998."
12-27-98, at approximately 1:05PM, Wild Horse Spirit was
contacted by Washoe County Animal Control regarding a report that a young horse was shot
and wounded around Rattlesnake
Mountain area near Reno. Reportedly two
other horses were dead. We met with a Washoe Animal Control officer, a Washoe County
Sheriff and followed the person who reported the shootings into the Virginia Range
Mountains east of Reno to the location. We werent prepared for what we finally
witnessed. These wild horses were the first six of what evolved,
over the next several days, into
approximately 34 wild
horses killed. A holiday massacre.
wounded filly, "Hope", who we had been called to help,
had managed to dig a small hole into the ground with her front feet, but couldn't move
her hind legs. This courageous, 6 month old little filly was alive but had been shot in the back
injuring her spinal cord. Her back legs were completely paralyzed. She had been lying in that one spot,
probably one, maybe two days. She had intermittently struggled to get up
using her front
legs, but couldnt. Sadly, there was nothing we could do for her.
"Hope" was critically injured and was euthanized by the officer.
dead horses found that afternoon included a 4 month old stud colt (#4), we
who had been sprayed with a whitish material over the
mouth, nose, eyes, and genital and rectal areas. The remaining horses were a nursing mare
(#9) and her 6 to 7 month old filly (#10) and two stallions (#8 and #11).
Thanks to the Washoe County Officer
Spratley, an excellent investigation began at that time while other authorities were
notified. We left the scene around 5PM, with Washoe County Animal
Control and Officer Spratley following, as it was getting dark. We
arrived at the Lockwood Store where Storey County officials began to
arrive. Eventually, the investigative officials labeled "Hope"
as #7. (Go to
After staying close to his slaughtered
#11, a SURVIVOR bachelor stallion finally
away from his dead buddy, going down the dirt road.. He kept
a cautious eye on me as he passed. CLICK
FOR VIDEO/SOUND CLIP
(Go to Spiritual
Writings.) (QUOTE: "God bless you. They just won't leave
We understand, the REWARD is an accumulative
$25,000 leading to the arrest & conviction of the person(s) responsible.
EVEN NOW IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING
ABOUT THIS, Call Secret
Witness at (775) 322-4900,
with any information about this crime. Or call us and we will refer
you to the proper officials.
to Slaughter Scene 5-21-99 (5 months later)
5-21-99 (above) Five months later--Return to the slaughter
scene. Remains of the 4-month-old colt that was sprayed. This colt,
we later named ALVIN, was labeled horse #4 by the prosecution (see
below). Beautiful green forage
is growing where he died -a tribute from Mother Nature to him.
stone Cross now lays
where the colt died.
5-21-99 (left) large stone Cross lays at the base of a
large old Pinon Pine tree in memory of the wild ones slaughtered during
the 1998 Christmas holidays. On this day, no wild horses had
yet returned to the slaughter area.
Horses finally Return to the
Slaughter Scene 9-4-99 (8 months later)
September 4, 1999, wild horses who survived, finally return to
slaughter scene of their friends and families.
Update Photos coming soon.
Return To Slaughter Scene 3 years later.
OF EVENTS AND TRIAL
Northern Nevada 1998 CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY WILD HORSE KILLINGS
12-27-98 the first 6 of a total of 34 wild horses were found Sunday
afternoon in the Virginia Range Mountains in an area
just east of Hidden Valley community, Reno/Sparks, Nevada.
Anthony Merlino was arraigned and 2-1-99 Darien Brock and
Scott Brendle were arraigned in Virginia City,
and 9-3-99 the pre-hearing trial was held before the Justice of Peace in
Virginia City, Nevada.
Judge Michael Griffin removed all charges except one gross misdemeanor
#12, which carried a penalty by Nevada law up to one year in the county
jail and a fine
up to $2000.
4-16-2000 at the time jury selection for the trial began, District Court
Judge Michael Griffin determined, after a contested "secret
hearing" closed to both the press and public, that the suspects could
not get a fair trial in Storey County and moved the trial to Carson City,
Nevada, to begin November 1, 2000, on horse #12.
4-26-2000 Storey Co Assistant D.A., Sharon Claassen, filled notice to
Nevada Supreme Court that Storey Co would appeal Judge Griffin’s
decision that threw out all counts except for horse #12.
10-5-2000 Storey Co Assistant D.A., Sharon Claassen argued before a panel
of three Nevada Supreme Court Justices, Shearing, Becker and Maupin, in
Virginia City, Nevada:
reinstate the charges for the other 21 horses and
As a “reasonable
argument” that NRS 193.155 applied to this case and allowed for the
aggregation of the horses value ($5000 or more), to increase the penalty
to a category C felony.
See Nevada Supreme Court decision
11-3-2000 Nevada Press Association (NPA), Reno
Gazette Journal, Nevada Appeal, and Associated Press, filed a
friend-of-the court brief with the Nevada Supreme Court to force
District Judge Griffin to provide the press and public with
immediate access to the transcripts of the “secret” closed proceeding
of 4-14-2000 in Virginia City.
Hearsay – The Petition filed by NPA (above) to the
NV Supreme Court to find Judge Griffin’s closing of the “confession
suppression” hearing on April 14, 1999, inappropriate, was
12-1-2000 Hearsay – NPA
(above), the petitioners, filed for a rehearing to the NV
4-7-2001 Nevada Supreme Court
panel decided Friday to return
the case to Carson District Judge Mike Griffin, saying he could allow
persecutors to file SEVEN more gross misdemeanor charges against former
Lance Cpls. Scott Brendle and Darien Brock and their former Wooster High
friend, Anthony Merlino. That’s
in addition to one gross misdemeanor count (horse #12) per defendant that
Griffin had allowed earlier. Storey
Co Assistant D.A., Sharon Claassen announced that they would file new
charges to include the seven horses and
the previously upheld horse #12 and then set a trial date.
set to begin January 7, 2002, with jury selection with trial ending
January 22, 2002 in District Court Judge Michael Griffin in Carson City, Nevada.
Suspects, Merlino, Brock, and Brendle, Reno high school classmates are
charged with eight gross misdemeanors, one for each of the eight wild
horses, #12, #9, #15, #16, #17, #19, #23 and #24, shot and killed and re-instated by the Nevada Supreme Court panel
Virginia City NV-Two of the three men, Anthony Merlino and Scott Brendle, accused in the
1998 Christmas-time slaughter of more than 30 wild horses near Virginia
city are expected to enter plea agreements to lesser chargers, said Storey
County Deputy D.A. Sharon Claassen on Thursday. Merlino's attorney
said, "Mr. Merlino is looking forward to getting THIS
for the slaughtered wild horses will NOT be served if Storey County
accepts plea bargaining to "lesser" charges as the current
charges are already minimal. The trial should proceed in a Court of Law with
presentation of all evidence before a jury who will then decide the charges
against the three suspects in behalf of all 8 horses.)
Nevada Appeal Article 12-22-2001 in its entirety.
“Change of Plea” 98 Christmas holiday slaughter
We spoke with Storey
County District Attorney’s office on 1-3-2002.
A woman said there will be NO trial.
But there will be a “Change of Plea” to be
presented before District Court Judge Michael Griffin at 1PM on
1-7-2002, Department 1, at Carson City District Court.
The trial was scheduled to begin on 1-7-2002 with jury selection.
Apparently, the “Change
of Plea” is an agreement to "lesser charges"
reached between Storey County DA and the defensive attorneys that will be
presented to and decided by Judge Griffin who was a colleague of one of
the defense attorneys.
Royle, president, Wild Horse Spirit, Ltd., said in response to a
"It is a sad
day when 'so-called advocates' for a species cannot plead for
justice, whatever it may be, without being used as an excuse not
to bring out truth."
1-7-2002-Update- Storey County and Judge Griffin fails
to allow justice.
The two ex-Marines, Darien Brock and
who received less-than-honorable discharges, pleaded no contest today
before District Justice Griffin in Carson City NV to single gross
misdemeanor counts. The third defendant, Anthony Merlino, pleaded guilty to
Sentencing was set for February 11, 2002. The two ex-Marines could
received up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,000. Anthony Merlino, a
Reno construction worker who admitted he shot one injured horse "to
put it out of its misery", pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of
disturbing the peace and could receive up to six months in jail and a fine
of up to $1,000. However, the degree of punishment will be decided
by Judge Griffin on February 11, 2002.
( Was justice served by Storey County and Judge
Griffin for the slaughtered wild horse? Without a trial by
jury where all evidence could be presented, NO. Will the sentencing to be
decided by Judge Griffin on February 11, 2002 justify the crimes of these
three men. We think not. They should received the maximum sentences.) Go to 1-7-2002 newspaper article.
Sentencing of three Defendants associated 1998 Christmas
holiday Virginia Range wild horses after three years.
Carson City District
Court I Minutes…Judge Michael Griffin
CASE NO. 00-01285C
TITLE: State of Nevada VS Scott William Brendle, Anthony Jon Merlino and
Darien Thomas Brock
2-11-2002 – Department
I – Judge Griffin – N. Pieretti, Clerk – J. Forbes – Reporter
ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND SENTENCING –
BRENDLE, MERLINO & BROCK
Sharon E. Claassen, Storey Co. Deputy D.A.; Defendant Brendle with
counsel, John Ohlson; Defendant Merlino with counsel, Scott N. Freeman;
Defendant Brock with counsel, Marc Picker.
As to each Defendant individually,
statements were made by their respective counsel, Claassen and Court.
Evidence marked and admitted in
accordance with Exhibit Sheet.
As to Defendant Anthony Merlino:
Judgment entered. Assess
$25 administrative assessment fee which will be paid with the clerk of
this court. Defendant
sentenced to 6 months Storey County Jail.
Sentence suspended; Defendant placed on probation for 1 years.
Fine Defendant $1000 and order $1500 restitution on a schedule.
Order 100 hours of community service.
Defendant released on his probation.
As to Defendant Scott Brendle:
COURT ORDERED: Judgment
entered. Assess $25
administrative assessment fee which will be paid with the clerk of this
court. Defendant sentenced to
12 months Storey County Jail. Sentence
suspended; Defendant placed on probation for a period up to 2 years with
special conditions. Defendant
to effect restitution in the amount of $1500 jointly and severally and
agree to a civil judgment of $1500. Restitution
for the extradition costs of $472. Sentence
Defendant to serve an additional 60 days in the Storey County Jail.
Credit for time served and require Defendant to turn himself in on
Friday to the Storey County Jail. 150
hours of community service. Bond
As to Defendant Darien Brock:
COURT ORDERED: The
same sentence applies to him as well.
Judgment entered. Assess
a $25 administrative assessment fee.
Defendant sentenced to 12 months in Storey County Jail.
Fined $2000. Sentence suspended; Defendant placed on probation for
a period of up to 2 years with special conditions.
Restitution in the amount of $1500 jointly and severally and
Defendant to sign a civil judgment. Restitution in the amount of $472 for extradition costs and
an additional 60 days in the Storey County Jail.
21 days credit given. 150
hours of community service. Defendant
released on probation. Bond
exonerated. Defendant to turn
himself in on Friday by 10:00AM.
colt, labeled #4 by the prosecution. (pass mouse
2-11-2002 Storey County Deputy D.A. Claassen, showing Brock's frame
of mind, presented the photo on
the left to District Court Judge Griffin at time of the
sentencing in an attempt to persuade Judge Griffin to give a maximum
sentence under the lesser charges plea-bargaining agreement that
included only one horse, #12. The 98 Christmas holiday
trophy-like photo is ex-Marine Darien Brock with his foot upon the
4-month old colt, #4 horse, ALVIN, as we named him. This photo was
from a roll of film confiscated by the investigators from the
defendants' camera. The defendant's photo show they had not
yet sprayed the colt with a fire extinguisher. Another similar
photo included ex-Marine Scott Brendle with his foot upon the colt,
too. The color photo on the right taken on 2-17-2002,
three years after the slaughter, is that of Alvin's remains where he
Photos taken late
afternoon of 12-27-98 after the tragedy had been reported to the
authorities. By this time, the defendants had sprayed Alvin
with a fire extinguisher. Pass your mouse over the photo
to see photo of Alvin's
sprayed rectal area...his rectum had prolapsed showing the stress
and terror Alvin experienced before he died. Photo of Alvin's
sprayed genital areas not shown.
Voice YOUR OPINION if
you feel this horrendous case was
plea-bargained and not decided in a Court of Justice before a jury
BY CALLING. "No evidence" is
not good enough:
Storey County District Attorney's Office: 775-847-0964
Janet Hess is the DA and Sharon
Claassen is the Deputy DA.
Carson City District Court-Judge Michael Griffin:
Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn's FAX is 775-684-5683.
- Nevada Appeal
-Carson City NV -fax (775) 887-2420.
- Reno Gazette
Journal -Reno NV -fax (775) 788-6458.
- Las Vegas Review
-Las Vegas NV -fax (702) 383-4676.
- Sparks Tribune
-Sparks NV -fax (775) 358-3837.
- Record Courier
-Gardnerville NV -fax (775) 782-6132.
- Comstock Chronicle, Virginia City NV Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WAS JUSTICE SERVED FOR THE SLAUGHTERED 98 CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY WILD
HORSES? To See More About ALVIN... CLICK HERE!
The 1999 Nevada
Legislature passed SB
396. As of 10-1-99, it is a
Class C Felony
to kill a wild horse or estray horse and increased the penalties for
other animal cruelty acts. Unfortunately, SB 396 is NOT
retroactive to include the 1998 Christmas holiday slaughter of
approximately 34 Virginia Range wild horses. BIG THANKS to
Senator Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, whose year-after-year fight for
such a bill, ended in a reality.
Virginia Range wild horses are
descendants of the very wild horses that spurred Velma B. Johnston, Wild Horse
Annie, on her long and gruesome journey that ended in passage of the
Federal 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act. Unfortunately,
these horses as well as other western wild horses were not included under
the protection of the ACT for political reasons. Nevada Senator Dina
Titus (D-Las Vegas) has introduced and re-introduced the Felony bill since
1993, but NV Senator Dean Rhodes (R-Tuscarora) who is a public lands
rancher and permittee has never allowed the bill off his desk. NV Senator
Lawrence Jacobsen (R-Western District) who has advised people
their shot guns out" when wild horses come on their property, was
also on this committee. Again, Big Thanks to NV Senator Dina Titus and
other legislative members to finally saw the need after the 1998
Christmas slaughter. UPDATE
The intent of two
other Nevada Bills, SB 27 and SB 211, that passed during the 1997 Nevada legislature, was to
horses from their rightful free-roaming ranges under the guise of "management".
Due to traditional anti-wild horse political power in the Nevada
legislature, no provision was included, or ever, in Nevada laws to protect free
roaming wild horses from the atrocities inflicted upon approximately 34
Virginia Range wild horses during the December 1998 Christmas holiday
massacre. Certainly, if a horse is injured and needs vet attention to survive or a
horse that is in jeopardy, removal for their safety and protection is necessary
and adoption is an option. Passage of the Felony Bill, SB 396, was one of the most urgent
and long overdue legislation to deter and protect Nevadas free
roaming wild horses. Thank you legislators.
| An unedited 17
minutes video taken by Wild Horse Spirit on afternoon of December 27, 1998,
of the first found 6 Virginia Range wild horses shot, (#4, 9, 10, 8, 7, 11) east of Reno/Sparks,
NV, and requested by Washoe County Deputy Spratley as he pointed out
evidence that afternoon was submitted to
Washoe County Sheriff's Department the next morning by Wild Horse Spirit.
NEEDED to make our counties safe for all: Washoe, Storey
and Lyon County Commissions need to strongly consider and pass
ordinances to prohibit "unauthorized discharging"
of firearms within our counties, except in designated areas.
25 Lewers Creek Road
Carson City, NV 89704
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