Woman cleared of animal cruelty charge in Mercer County - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Woman cleared of animal cruelty charge in Mercer County

Nicole Rust Nicole Rust

A judge in Mercer County has ruled that there is not enough evidence to convict a woman of animal cruelty charges.

District Justice Lorinda Hinch found Nicole Rust not guilty of the charge following a hearing on Monday.

The charge was filed in September after a horse being kept in East Lackawannock Township was found suffering from colic.

Rust left Mercer County for Tennessee, leaving the horse in the care of her husband.

A veterinarian testified in court that when neighbors stepped in and called the Mercer Humane Society, the horse's health had deteriorated to the point where euthanasia was a possibility.

“Nicole had left the animals tied to trees, locked in a barn,” said Heather Rust-Murray. “There was no food or water available.”

Neighbors had expected to hear Rust's husband, Martin, testify that he is afraid of horses, doesn't live at the site, and doesn't like taking care of them.

The husband's testimony was not allowed in court. Judge Hinch reminded prosecuting attorneys that a husband can not be compelled to testify against a wife.

The neighbors who took care of the horses believe they should have been called as witnesses saying they have pictures of moldy hay, no water, and videos of the living conditions.

“It's horrible that they didn't present enough evidence to show that these horses are neglected,” said Trish Worden.

Nicole Rust told 21 News she is trying to get money to take the horses to Tennessee. “ I'm extremely happy to get her back. I have always looked after her. I've taken care of her. I can't wait for her to come back home,” said Rust.

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