In the wild, wild west of Crook County, Wyoming, a bizarre bovine debacle went to court and left many in attendance in disbelief. Picture this: Two ranchers, the Carrolls, were charged with bleaching spots on their neighbor’s cows — but not just any kind of spots. Many of the bleach marks resembled male genitalia. Yep, they were accused of turning the cows into walking, um, art exhibits.
Despite felony charges of property destruction against Patrick Sean Carroll, 66, and his son Tucker Kye Carroll, 34, amounting to an estimated $500 to $700 per head in destruction, all counts were dismissed without prejudice.
“After hearing testimony, the Court hereby finds that there is not sufficient probable cause, and the matter is hereby dismissed without prejudice,” wrote Sundance Circuit Court Judge Lynda Bush in a court order.
Had the charges stuck and the men been convicted, they’d have both faced up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines for each of the two counts of property destruction.
Now, this wasn’t your average Picasso-in-the-paddock scenario. The Carrolls’ neighbors and news accounts allege that the artistic endeavors were strategically aimed at the Carrolls’ neighbor, Philip Habeck, whose heifers and bulls suddenly became unique canvases. The Carrolls were suspected in the case because they have long had a tiff with Habeck over cattle crossing onto their properties.
“This has been coming for three years,” the elder Carroll told Habeck’s ranch hand, according to Cowboy State Daily. An affidavit written by Crook County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Jessen indicates that Carroll told the man to leave so he wasn’t a part of the feud. The employee took photos and left with his horses.
Nearly 200 of the poor heifers and bulls ended up looking like they had a rough night out in a college town — sporting neon signs and shapes that would make even the most daring tattoo artists blush. But alas, the legal debacle came to an end (at least for now) when the judge couldn’t find enough evidence to milk the case further. Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, a prosecutor could refile the charges against the Carrolls if more evidence becomes available.
Even though hair grows back, a livestock seller had estimated that the cattle would have been worth about $2,600 per head but were now worth only about $1,850 after the vandalism.