A judge has ordered that a Walnut Hill man accused of starving 10 horses will no longer be able to have custody of, or live around, any animal as he awaits trial on multiple animal cruelty charges.
Late last week, Judge Ronald Swanson modified bond conditions for James Benjamin Bethea, stipulating that he shall not maintain custody of any animal, and that no animal may reside on any property in which Bethea lives, owns, cares for or maintains.
In addition, Bethea must allow Panhandle Equine Rescue to conduct random inspections to ensure the bond conditions are being met. The conditions apply as he awaits trial.
Bethea, 61, has pleaded not guilty to two felony and eight misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. One of the horses allegedly starved by Bethea was euthanized by a veterinarian. Nine others were seized by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and transported to an animal clinic for medical care.