Motion could lessen charges in Lee County horse neglect case

Horses returned to the pasture of Jeff Graber in Donnellson, Iowa on Saturday

A motion filed by the defense attorney in the case of a Donnellson farmer charged with livestock neglect says the neglect was unintentional.

A Lee County Iowa judge will decide whether Jeffery Graber, 55, will head to trial on a serious misdemeanor charge of livestock neglect.

Graber was charged Jan. 8 after deputies removed several emaciated horses from his property. A judge ordered the horses returned to Graber due to a clerical error by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The motion filed by defense attorney Steven Ort says that none of the testimony provided in the case thus far shows that the Graber's horses were intentionally neglected. That means he should only face a charge of a simple misdemeanor, according to the motion.

A judge is expected to hear arguments on the motion at 9:30 a.m. May 20.

The case is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 13 in Fort Madison.

Investigators seized 36 horses Jan. 29. They were placed with four rescue organizations in Southeast Iowa. Judge Mary Ann Brown cited a procedural error committed by the Lee County Sheriff's Office when it served a warrant at the farm. The horses were returned to Graber in March.