Sauk County prosecutors were forced to dismiss and refile a case against a landlord accused of mistreating his tenant’s animals after a judge refused to sign off on the initial charges.
Prosecutors refiled charges Wednesday against Jerry A. Leister, 67, of Middleton, who was accused of injuring his tenant’s horse and burying her dog’s carcass in an undisclosed location.
He now faces two misdemeanor counts of intentionally mistreating an animal.
Prosecutors had initially charged Leister with felony mistreatment of an animal and dognapping in relation to events that transpired in September and October.
In September, investigators said Leister’s tenant learned her dog was missing and there was blood in her driveway, so she confronted him. Leister allegedly told the woman he found the dog dead, and buried it because he didn’t want the scene to traumatize her young son.
The woman said Leister refused to tell her where the dog was buried and became evasive when she asked for more information.
In October, days after a heated confrontation with the tenant, Leister allegedly used a skid-loader in a barn that housed her two horses. The next day, the woman said she found blood in the barn and a severe injury to the horse’s muzzle with a bone sticking out of the wound.
Another witness told investigators that Leister admitted he saw the horse get tangled in a blanket and begin to flail wildly while he was inside the barn, but did not assist the animal or notify its owner.
Court filings show Sauk County Judge Guy Reynolds refused to sign a warrant for Leister’s arrest last week after the initial charges were filed. He noted that there was insufficient evidence to support the felony charge involving the horse, and that dognapping generally applies to living animals.
Prosecutors then dismissed the initial case, and refiled it Wednesday as two misdemeanor intentional animal mistreatment charges.
The tenant, Zoe Cordova, says she is looking for a new place to live. She still does not know what happened to her dog, or where it is buried.
“He won’t talk to anybody,” Cordova said. “So nobody knows.”