The rest of the story: Local author pens tale of Greenlee County horse and mule deaths and the Forest Service’s involvement

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Dexter K. Oliver: "Whipping Dead Horses: An Honest Opinion (And a Bear Story Too)" about the dehydration and starvation death of two horses and a mule in Greenlee County under the watch of the Forest Service is now available to tell "the rest of the story."

By Dexter K. Oliver

GREENLEE COUNTY – Greenlee County, Arizona is getting to be known to the outside world for its “James Comey Moment”. This refers back to July 5, 2016, when then-Director of the FBI gave an important 15-minute speech. He spent 14 minutes indicting Hillary Clinton for her misuse of a private email server and endangering classified material, then spent one minute explaining why he was dropping the case.

In much the same way, the Greenlee County Attorney’s Office and Justice Court One in Clifton dropped two cases pertaining to animal cruelty on June 7, 2017, after initially going through the lengthy process of actually getting the defendants to court. The FBI, in the Clinton case, had investigated and found enough evidence to bring charges that were never filed. The Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office had followed the same course but here the charges were initiated, summonses delivered, fingerprinting performed, initial court appearances and arraignments achieved.

Then, quite inexplicably, a request from a Tucson lawyer to remove the case for one of the defendants to the federal district court was honored by the Greenlee County Attorney’s Office and subsequently by the Justice Court One. The removal motion was based wholly on the defendant’s being a “federal law enforcement officer” and therefore immune to prosecution in a state court. This premise was blatantly untrue and could have easily and quickly been debunked and challenged. There are Arizona laws against impersonating a peace officer or falsifying public records. But the county dismissed not only that defendant to federal court but also the second defendant.

The removal motion that the Greenlee County Attorney’s Office signed off on was then immediately withdrawn by the same Tucson lawyer. The case was effectively hijacked and never made it into federal court. It was as if a puppeteer was pulling one string after another to make his marionettes dance to his tune. The legal principle of Dual Sovereignty, where both the state and feds can try a person for the same crime without invoking double jeopardy, was apparently never even considered. Nor were the cases immediately brought back to Justice Court One in Clifton when it was obvious they would not be adjudicated in federal court.

Photo By Dexter K. Oliver: A mule named “Little Bit” from the Clifton Ranger District in Greenlee County bears mute witness to the cruel death perpetrated upon it.

The well-known, 20th-century conservative radio host, Paul Harvey, had a popular segment called “The Rest of the Story”.  He would give background news, take a break, and come back with the remaining, often more important, material. I have had eight articles published about the unwarranted deaths of two horses and one mule on the Clifton Ranger District in 2016. These have been in magazines, newspapers, and an internet news site. But they didn’t tell “the rest of the story” because it was too long, crooked, and bizarre a path for anything but a book; so I wrote one.

“Whipping Dead Horses: An Honest Opinion (And a Bear Story Too)” is a fully documented account of what happened, how the “transparency” of the Forest Service in general and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest specifically was actually as opaque as a brick wall, and how Greenlee County failed in its designated role to provide justice. The county attorney’s office, in their own words, spent more money on these misdemeanor cases than any others; it is time for them to recoup their losses.

The book may now be seen in the Duncan, Safford, Clifton, Blue, Alpine, Lordsburg, and Portal libraries or purchased at the Simpson Hotel, the Country Chic Visitor’s Center, or Rock-A-Buy Rock Shop, all in Duncan, Arizona.

Dexter K. Oliver is a freelance writer and wildlife consultant from Duncan. He has done wildlife field word as an employee of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, APHIS/Wildlife Services, the AZ Game & Fish Department, the San Carlos Apache Wildlife Division, and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as non-governmental wildlife organizations, in the Southwest, Mexico, and Costa Rica.