Carla Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman, will appear in court Sept. 28 and 29 and Oct. 5 and 6 for a trial related to animal neglect charges. (Black Press file photo)

Vernon-area duo accused of animal abuse set for trial

42 horses were seized from the property after two rotting horse carcasses were found

Trial dates have been set for an Okanagan mother and daughter facing multiple charges of animal neglect.

Carla Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman, face charges including unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities for an animal. Beluse-Christman also faces a charge of obstructing a peace officer.

On Wednesday, March 4, at the Vernon Law Courts, Judge Richard Hewson confirmed split trial dates for Sept. 28-29 and Oct. 5-6.

The mother and daughter’s charges relate to an incident where 42 horses, four dogs and four swine were seized from the Christman’s Irish Creek Road farm in March 2019.

The animals were seized by the BC SPCA after the rotting carcasses of two horses were found on the property.

Defence lawyer Graham Kay said in a court appearance earlier this month his client, Carla Christman, had given him a list of 54 witnesses for the trial.

On Wednesday Judge Richard Hewson asked him if that list had been trimmed down.

“I know I’ve been able to take off at least 10 or 12 of those,” Kay said. “I have talked to my client and I think I’m going to have difficulty in even reaching some of the people that she was suggesting.”

Joe Deuling, defence lawyer for Beluse-Christman, was not at court Wednesday due to illness. However the Crown informed Judge Hewson that Deuling planned to allege a breach of Beluse-Christman’s Section 8 Canadian Charter rights, which protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure.

A pre-trial conference will also be set between July 15 and Aug. 15. The hour-long, 2 p.m. hearing will be set by the judicial case manager on March 11.

“The issues that I’m expecting to canvas at the pre-trial conference are the witness lists, any additions that might be made and confirm the charter notices that were to be sent by May 1 have been received,” Hewson said.

The Crown added it expects to oppose “the vast majority” of the defence’s witnesses unless they have direct evidence regarding the defence or the time period.

READ MORE: Vernon-area duo still awaiting trial for animal abuse

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