Milesburg man again convicted of animal abuse

mcarroll@centredaily.comOctober 14, 2013 

A Milesburg man who was sentenced in July to serve up to four years in prison on animal cruelty charges and who appealed his conviction again has been found guilty for allowing a herd of beef cattle to starve over the winter on his farm.

Prosecutors said Thomas Shawley, 56, was back in Centre County Court on Monday for a non-jury trial before Judge Jonathan D. Grine. And Shawley was again convicted on 28 summary violations for animal cruelty and failing to properly dispose of dead domestic animals.

Shawley was first convicted on the charges in July at a summary trial before District Judge Allen Sinclair.

He failed to show for that trial, and in his absence was found guilty and sentenced to serve one year and seven months to four years and nine months in prison.

Shawley appealed the conviction and sentence to Common Pleas Court and was granted the new trial before Grine.

District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, who was present for both summary trials and participated in the investigation, said she will ask Grine to hand down the same sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Court documents do not list an attorney for Shawley.

“We expect the same result and will ask for the same sentence at the upcoming sentencing,” Parks Miller said in a statement. “Witnessing the condition these animals were in firsthand was shocking and heartbreaking and defines inhumane behavior.”

Prosecutors said the state Department of Agriculture and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were called in February to investigate complaints of animal abuse.

A badly malnourished herd of cattle was found in an enclosed, muddy field on the Burnside Township farm with no available food.

Several cattle were dead in the field, covered with snow. Others were so emaciated that their bones could be seen through their winter coats, prosecutors said.

Some sets of calves and their mothers were among the dead. Bone marrow from the calves was later tested to determine levels of malnutrition.

Prosecutors said the tests revealed “startlingly low” bone marrow content, indicating the animals had burned through almost all their fat in place of food.

The surviving animals were taken from the property and some recovered.

Shawley allegedly told authorities he hadn’t provided adequate food and care for the animals, and that over time it “had gotten away from him, “ prosecutors said.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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