Section: CAPITAL REGION
Date: Thursday, May 15, 1997
HORSE TRAINER CONVICTED OF ANIMAL CRUELTYCHRISTOPHER RINGWALD Staff writer
COLONIE -- A Latham horse trainer faces up to two years in prison after being convicted Wednesday of cruelty to animals.
After five days of testimony ranging from gruesome descriptions of sick horses to tedious recountings of hay and feed purchases, the jury of three men and three women deliberated a scant 45 minutes before finding Marie Gaida guilty. Gaida was charged Aug. 5 after State Police found 19 emaciated and unhealthy horses on her farm at 1133 New Loudon Road. Her attorney, Randall Kehoe, promised an appeal. He alleged at least two irregularities: the repeated use of prejudicial language -- two witnesses likened Gaida's farm to a ``concentration camp'' -- and the court's denial of certain testimony. Kehoe reiterated his client's contention that she simply was nursing sick animals back to health. Gaida was released without bail. Sentencing by Town Justice Mary Sweeney is set for June 25.
The fate of the 19 horses, now being cared for by volunteers, will be determined at a June 4 hearing. ``I'm very, very pleased,'' said the prosecutor, Albany County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Boland. She credited State Police Investigator Susan McDonough for collecting the ``overwhelming evidence.'' The case came to the attention of authorities after a truck driver reported bringing nine sickly horses to Gaida's farm from Ocala, Fla. Kehoe said Gaida sold her own horse farm in Ocala and boarded the nine horses at another farm for eight months. During that time, the attorney said, Gaida decided to bring them to Latham for recuperation. Kehoe complained he was prevented from introducing testimony by two Florida veterinarians who would have defended Gaida's care for those horses.