Man accused in horse deaths case returns to court

District attorney will decide by March 14 if there is enough evidence to proceed to grand jury indictment

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  • From left: Peter DePaolo, 68; DePaolo’s attorney, Shahzad A. Dar; and Orange County District Attorney George Del Fierro Jr. stand before Judge Gregory L. Wieboldt in Greenville town court on Feb. 14 (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Attorney Shahzad A. Dar shielded his client Peter DePaolo from photos as they left Greenville court on Feb. 14 (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Assistant District Attorney George Del Fierro Jr. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— Peter DePaolo, accused of animal cruelty in the deaths of two horses, returned to Greenville Town Court on Feb. 14.

DePaolo, 68, sat in the courtroom, his hands on his cane. His attorney, Shahzad A. Dar, sat with him.

Judge Gregory L. Wieboldt called DePaolo's name and asked that he stand before him.

Assistant District Attorney George Del Fierro Jr. said the Orange County District Attorney's office is evaluating the case. DePoalo will return to Judge Wieboldt's courtroom at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. At that time, the district attorney's decision on whether there's enough evidence to proceed to a grand jury indictment will be announced.

DePaolo last December pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty. He did admit to shooting two horses.

Investigator Gene Hecht of Hudson Valley Humane Law Enforcement wrote in his felony complaint last year that he found a horse at DePaolo's place of residence, at 51 Decker Drive in Middletown, so emaciated it was too weak to stand up.

The felony complaint defines aggravated animal cruelty as conduct that "is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or is done or carried out in an especially depraved and sadistic manner."

DePaolo provided the following statement to the Town of Greenville Court on Dec. 2, 2018:

"My name is Peter DePaolo & reside at 51 Decker Dr. Middletown NY Town of Greenville. I am the owner of the two dead horses named Backwards color black, male, 15 years old & a color brown horse male named Rebel, 15 years old. I shot the black horse on November 24, 2018. He was lame in the left front leg. He was out in the field at the time. I got my rifle a 38/40 caliber & shot him in the neck. The second horse color brown was lying in a stall & did not get up so I got my rifle once again & shot him in the shoulder. This was on Friday November 30, 2018. I then dragged it out into the pasture where I shot the first horse with my tractor.

"There is a male horse color brown about 5 years old. The horse does not belong to me but I am caring for it. The horse has been in my care about 9 months."

After leaving court on Feb. 14, DePaolo drove off in a truck. The Chronicle asked his attorney why DePaolo pleaded not guilty after submitting signed statements that he'd shot the horses.

"I'm a defense attorney," Dar said, then walked away.

Lucille McHugh of Westtown heard about DePaolo's case from friends who discovered it through Justice for Hudson Valley Animals.

"I wanted to be sure there would be justice for the emaciated horses DePaolo shot and left to bleed to death," said McHugh.

Related storiesPlease see these related stories at

"Horses were starved and killed on Middletown farm"

"Judge delivers maximum sentence, and fierce denunciation, in horse deaths case"

"Disturbing images of horse abuse shown as Ryan's trial continues"

"Farm owner charged with 10 felony counts of cruelty to animals"

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