Man sentenced to 5 years for dragging donkey from pickup truck

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - A Montgomery County man has been sentenced to five years in prison for dragging a donkey from his pickup truck.

A jury sentenced Marc Saunders Wednesday afternoon after finding him guilty of a felony animal cruelty charge. Saunders has been in jail since his arrest in October of 2012.

"You're dealing with an animal that's basically defenseless. And you have a situation where you have a defendant that's a cross between a sociopath and a moron," said prosecutor Rob Freyer.

According to investigators, Saunders offered to escort the donkey named Susie Q back to its owners' house after it wandered away. They said Saunders then tied it to the back of his pickup truck and began to escort it down the road.

According to a witness, Saunders increased his speed when the animal stopped and then dragged it for about a quarter of a mile.

During the trial, the donkey's owners were subpoenaed as defense witnesses, telling the jury Saunders offered to help and what happened was an accident.

"There was a trail of blood going down the road. The donkey, when located by Constable Morrow, was lying in a ditch and was in obvious pain. Her hooves were bleeding. We did not need that man's consent to go forward with this case," said Freyer.

The jury found Saunders guilty of a third-degree felony and agreed Saunders used his vehicle as a deadly weapon. They could have sentenced him to between two and 10 years in prison.

During the sentencing phase, Freyer pushed for the maximum punishment, and called several witnesses to testify about the defendant's prior drug charge and probation that followed.

Saunders will have to serve half of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.

Saunders' attorney, Joseph LaBella, declined to speak on camera Wednesday but said it was never his client's intent to hurt the donkey. The defense also indicated an issue with the indictment could be grounds for an appeal.

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