SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A horse trainer can be prosecuted a third time on charges that he beat a colt to death with a whip handle in 2006, New Mexico's highest court ruled Monday.
The state Supreme Court said double jeopardy protections and the statute of limitations do not prohibit Greg Collier of Lubbock, Texas, from being retried on a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge for the death of the 10-month-old colt.
Collier was training the horse in New Mexico for its owner, who lived in El Paso.
Collier was first tried in 2008, but jurors failed to reach a verdict on a felony animal cruelty charge. Collier was retried and acquitted of felony animal cruelty in 2009, but jurors deadlocked over a misdemeanor charge. A state district judge blocked a third trial in 2009.
The Constitution's double jeopardy clause protects a criminal defendant from a second prosecution for the same offense after being acquitted. The Supreme Court said there's no violation of that constitutional right if Collier is retried on the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge because there was a mistrial on that charge caused by a deadlocked jury.
Crystal Shaw, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office in Dona Ana County, said no decision has been made yet on whether Collier will be tried again. The current district attorney, Mark D'Antonio, was elected last year. He will review the case before deciding whether to seek a retrial, Shaw said.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was the district attorney when Collier was indicted and tried on a felony charge of extreme animal cruelty, which could have been punished by up to 18 months in prison. Martinez became governor in 2011.
During the second trial, while Martinez was district attorney, jurors were given the option of convicting Collier on the felony or a lesser offense. All but one of the 12 jurors voted in favor of a misdemeanor conviction, which could have been punished by up to a year in jail.