A judge granted a motion to nolle pross all three animal cruelty charges filed against Cassy Newell-Reed, the owner of New Beginnings Horse Rescue, in the King William District Court on Thursday.
If charges are nolle prossed, the prosecution will not pursue them unless new evidence to support the charges comes to light.
King William Commonwealth Attorney Matthew Kite made a motion to nolle pross the three charges, but also said the sheriff's office and animal control are continuing to investigate the horse rescue case.
Forty two horses were seized from New Beginnings, in Aylett, on June 8, after animal control officers received multiple complaints of malnourished and unhealthy horses at the farm.
The sheriff's office charged Newell-Reed with three counts of animal cruelty, which are class 1 misdemeanors, after seizing the horses.
During a seizure hearing on June 23, a judge ruled that insufficient evidence exists to support the removal of 42 horses from New Beginnings Horse Rescue while the rescue's owner, Cassy Newell-Reed, awaited her trial date.
All 42 horses were returned to New Beginnings on July 15 and 16, after a judge ordered the sheriff's office to return them.
Most misdemeanors cannot be prosecuted past one year of the offense date, according to Virginia's statute of limitations.
Newell-Reed's attorney, Julia Childrey, said in court that she believes Kite's motion for the charges to be nolle prossed is a tactic to delay the case's progression, and that the prosecution may try to direct indict Newell-Reed by a grand jury later on.
After the Thursday hearing, Childrey said the commonwealth has subpoenaed Newell-Reed's veterinarian to appear in front of a grand jury.
If a grand jury determines there is probable cause that a person committed a crime, it can issue a direct indictment, meaning the case will go straight to trial.
Kite said he could not comment on the matter.
Childrey also said she plans to submit a written request for copies of New Beginnings horse records, which were taken when the horses were seized from the farm.
"(Newell-Reed) is not able to adopt out any of the horses without that paperwork," Childrey said.
Fearing can be reached at 757-298-5838.