Law Enforcement

Estranged couple appears on charges of animal cruelty

By Tim Omarzu - Tue, Apr 21, 1998

Cheryl Taylor in court. John Hart)
An estranged couple facing misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and neglect for allowing one horse to die and another to go without food had their first court appearance Monday.

Attorney Steven Munkelt entered a not-guilty plea in Municipal Court on behalf of the horses' owner, Charles "Chuck" Murray Taylor.

Cheryl Lynn Taylor - Taylor's estranged wife - did not plea, saying her attorney, Sharon Lapin, wasn't able to appear Monday.

The Taylors will have a pre-trial hearing at 9 a.m. May 4.

The divorcing couple kept three horses on 10 acres near McCourtney Road: Baby, who reportedly was found dead on Valentine's Day; Dusty, who died Feb. 16 in an emaciated state, according to two county animal-control officers who saw its carcass; and Chiquita, an emaciated mare, whom Cheryl Taylor reported missing on March 13.

Horse "rescuers" from a Palos Verdes group called HorseAid claim responsibility for taking the skeletal Chiquita and say they won't return her to the Taylors.

The Taylors have mutual restraining orders against each other.

"At the time the problem developed with these horses, Chuck Taylor was under a family-law order barring him from where the horses were kept," Munkelt told Judge Al Dover. "He wasn't in a position to do anything about it."

Cheryl Taylor has alleged that Chuck Taylor did not provide horse food for three months and later only brought a bale of hay a week, and no grain, to feed Chiquita, after animal control officers found her in an emaciated state.

The animal neglect and cruelty charges carry penalties of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. There wasn't enough evidence to bring charges for Baby, the first horse that died, said Assistant District Attorney Julie McManus.