A 32-year-old woman has been sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Although she shouldered the blame for the starvation deaths of three horses last winter, when Sonia Herrera spoke Tuesday at her sentencing hearing, she focused on her own woes.
She'd married, divorced, moved. Had a lot of ups and downs. Life hadn't been easy. At the end of her statement to the court, Herrera briefly mentioned the animals she left behind in Manhattan Township.
"It's my fault the horses are dead," she told Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt on Tuesday. "I should have gone and fed them in October."
Herrera, of Channahon, was arrested Jan. 29 and charged with four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, one count of cruel treatment of an animal and one count of failing to properly dispose of animal remains.
When Will County police arrived at the farm on Sweedler Road in January, they found two horses frozen in the mud on the floor of a barn. The building was a little smaller than a one-car garage, Will County police officer Dan Jungles said Tuesday during the sentencing hearing.
Inside a larger barn, another dead horse had rope wrapped around its legs. Marks in the dirt indicated it had been dragged there from another location by a vehicle, Jungles testified. Herrera later admitted to moving the animal so it wouldn't freeze to the ground, he said.
Five other horses were found elsewhere on the property. Four were skinny and sick, but one was in fairly good shape, Jungles said. They didn't have any food, but there were some buckets of frozen water.
Represented by Robert Michael Duffy, Herrera pleaded guilty in August to four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Her possible punishment ranged from probation to three years in prison.