of whether jurors vote to convict or acquit Arcata rancher Ray
Christie, it’s possible the meat-eaters on the panel could become
Most of the evidence presented Monday against Christie, accused of animal cruelty and littering within 150 feet of state waters, consisted of photographs of decaying cattle carcasses and piles of bones. Some of the remains were near waterways, others were rotting in the water itself.
Ryan Bourque, an environmental specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, was assigned to document the alleged littering by photographing carcasses and measuring their distance from waterways. His first stop was a ranch on Jackson Ranch Road, where Christie lives and where most of the dead cattle were found. Bourque’s most notable find was the stack of carcasses — he estimated 200 — about 100 feet from a water channel that drains into Liscomb Slough.
“I attempted to (count),” Bourque testified under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada. “But the sheer number of them, the fact that they were piled on top of each other, that they were in various stages of decay…”
Kamada displayed photos of the many carcasses, along with maps of the properties. Bourque would mark on a map the various “pollution points” he discovered.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney John Cogorno, Bourque spent most of his time responding “No,” “I don’t know” and “I did not.”
Cogorno, while occasionally varying his wording, asked countless times whether Bourque knew how the carcasses got there, knew how the animals died, knew when they died, knew who owned the animals. Kamada objected often on grounds of “asked and answered” or “irrelevant.”
Most of the time Judge Christopher Wilson sustained those objections.
Bourque did not take water samples in the areas where the carcasses were found, saying that’s not why he was there.
During his cross-examination, Cogorno suggested one of the cows might have been killed by a wild animal. He also brought up poisonous plants, which he maintains could have been a cause of death.
The large pile of dead animals on Christie’s Arcata ranch may have been stacked on some sort of bench or high point on the property, Cogoran said, which may explain why the stack was so high. Bourque said he saw no evidence of a natural ledge but admitted he didn’t know what was under the pile.
In addition to the Jackson Ranch Road properties, law enforcement served search warrants on Clam Beach Road in McKinleyville, Anderson Avenue in McKinleyville, property off Park Street in Eureka, property in Crannell and property off South G Street in Arcata. Christie either owned or leased the various parcels.
Christie, 56, was arrested during the raids on March 19 and March 20, 2018, but immediately posted bail.
On Friday, outside the jury’s presence, Kamada and co-prosecutor David Moutrie told Wilson they believe Christie also removed official identification tags from cattle he purchased at auction as part of a scheme to disguise conventional cows as “organic.”
Wilson did not allow that in as evidence, saying it was a conclusion and not a fact.
Deputy Travis Mendes, the livestock and “ag crimes” deputy for Humboldt County, testified today that he removed a bucket from Christie’s barn that contained “just under 1,300” identification tags.
Prosecutors allege Christie bought the animals, then proceeded to distribute them on his properties and leave them to starve. The defense says Christie bought sub-par animals intending to restore them to health, and it was no surprise that some of them died.
Testimony was expected to continue this morning.
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