A court is to decide whether Craig Mosher a Vermont farmer bears culpability after claims his negligence led to a fatal car crash after a bull escaped.
Fellow farmers have told during a packed courthouse Monday meeting in Rutland, Vermont, that Craig Mosher, should not face criminal involuntary manslaughter charges after a loose bull belonging to the Killington man caused a July 2015 fatal car accident.
The farmer’s concerns come as they now believe if Craig Mosher is found guilty, the verdict could severely harm the state’s agriculture economy as what once used to be considered an unfortunate accident could now be attributable to farmers’ perceived actions or lack of.
A report via the nydailynews tells how fellow farmers fear Craig Mosher’s prosecution could set a precedent that stands to hurt the state’s economy, whose staples include dairy farming, artisanal foods and forestry. They would like to see the charge, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison upon conviction, dropped.
‘Animals don’t get out that often. When they do, there could have been 100 different reasons why that animal got out,’ said Joseph Tisbert, president of the Vermont Farm Bureau.
Mosher, who owns an excavation company, was indicted by a grand jury in April and has pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents:
On July 31, 2015, a milk truck driver nearly hit the bull in Killington, recognized the bull was Craig Mosher’s and went to Mosher’s house to tell him about it.
The driver said he banged on Craig Mosher’s door and blew his truck’s air horn to alert Mosher. The driver said Mosher opened an upstairs window and he told Mosher he had almost hit the bull. The milk truck driver said he didn’t see Craig Mosher come outside after a few minutes so he called police.
Craig Mosher later told a trooper he went to look for the bull on his property but couldn’t find it, went home and fell asleep.
Not less than 15 minutes after the milk driver called police, the loose bull led to a crash killing 62-year-old Jon Michael Bellis, of Woodbridge, Connecticut. At the time, the man’s car hit the bull before slamming into a tree. His wife, Kathryn Barry Bellis, 61, was in the car but survived.
The bull was killed.
The indictment accuses Mosher of acting with criminal negligence after he learned the bull was loose and failing to contain it or warn others of the danger.
Tisbert said he and other farmers are now worried landowners might be less willing to lease pastures.
Told the farmer: ‘This could inadvertently affect the tourism industry of Vermont as farmers and landowners become more concerned about criminal and increased insurance liability.’
The criminal trial arrives after a previous civil lawsuit had been settled. The terms of the settlement were not revealed as the case now goes into criminal trial.
According to Rutland County state’s attorney Rose Kennedy saying police had responded to reports of Craig Mosher’s bull in the roadway three times and out of its pasture once in June and July 2015.
Responding to the case, Jerome O’Neill, the murdered driver’s wife’s legal representative, believes that farmers concerns are misplaced, citing what he believes is the farmer’s negligence which led to the livestock accident.
Pointing out that Craig Mosher’s fencing wasn’t well maintained and despite previous remonstrations to that effect as evidenced by the man’s bulls getting out frequently, the lawyer told:
‘No farmer wants to let his or her animals run out in the road,’ said the attorney. ‘It’s going to cause people serious injury or death, and they’re going to lose the animal.’
Reflected local farmer Mary Anderson of Bethel: ‘If I am driving on a state road or someone is driving on a state road and hits a Moose and gets killed, can they then sue the state for involuntary manslaughter? If a child runs out after a ball in front of a car, are those parents held liable.’
Foreseeing farmer’s concerns of direct culpability, Rutland County State’s Attorney, Rose Kennedy reiterated: ‘I will be presenting this case in trial. And that is where this case belongs, but I wanted farmers to know, especially farmers in this community to understand. This is not and attack on farmers. The state is aware that animals get out but this unfortunately is a case about public safety.’
And then there was this line of thought via bedlamfarm which made me wonder, see what you think?
Traditionally, accidents like these often lead to civil suits or insurance claims, they have always been handled as civil cases. I can find no evidence that any animal accident that befalls responsible animal owners – and many people testify that Mosher is extremely responsible – has ever resulted in criminal charges, absent evidence of malice or chronic and irresponsible neglect. There is no evidence of chronic or irresponsible behavior by Mosher, nothing that would ever be called criminal or require jail time.