SLEEPY EYE — A Brown County judge has dismissed perjury charges filed against a Sleepy Eye horse trainer. She still is facing animal mistreatment charges.
Candi Jolene Lemarr, 43, was accused in March of neglecting horses in her care and making false statements during a court hearing. She was charged with seven felony counts of perjury and 20 misdemeanor counts of animal mistreatment.
Judge Robert Docherty recently dismissed all of the perjury charges.
Lemarr’s attorney, James Kuettner, sought dismissal arguing the prosecution could not prove Lemarr knowingly made false statements. Docherty agreed.
The perjury charges stem from testimony Lemarr gave about her interaction with a Brown County Sheriff investigator and a veterinarian before she agreed to surrender seven horses and three donkeys. That interaction was recorded on the investigator’s camera.
Docherty’s ruling acknowledges that Lemarr did provide some details about the encounter that don’t appear to match the recording.
But perjury law requires that a defendant intentionally lied under oath during a court proceeding. And the prosecution failed to prove Lemarr made any deliberate false statements, Docherty ruled.
Lemarr testified she was under pressure and might have been remembering the events differently than depicted in the video from the investigator’s viewpoint, the judge determined. She did not change her testimony about what she remembered even after she was shown video clips during cross-examination, the ruling notes.
“It is reasonable to infer … the video does not represent the events as defendant personally remembers them,” the ruling states.
And some of testimony in question could have been interpreted in multiple ways, the ruling states. When she said, “They wouldn’t tell us why they were there,” for example, she could have been referring to their refusal to tell her who had reported suspected neglect.
Kuettner told The Free Press he and Lemarr are pleased with the ruling.
“Statements made under great stress aren’t always as clear as we’d hope them to be, and they can be misunderstood, but that doesn’t make the statements lies or untruthful,” he said. “Candi Lemarr is known by friends and colleagues as honest and trustworthy. We hope that these charges haven’t tarnished that reputation beyond repair.”
Deputy Brown County Attorney Jill Jensen said she could not comment on the dismissal because of pending criminal and appellate cases.
The criminal trial is scheduled to go to trial next month. Those charges say seven underweight horses were found and there wasn’t adequate food or bedding at her Sapphire Equestrian Farm. The sheriff investigator brought a veterinarian to the farm after receiving a complaint from someone who had boarded horses at the farm.
Lemarr and supporters claim the horses were rescued from neglect situations and were being provided proper care.
Lemarr also has appealed Docherty’s decision not to return the surrendered animals to her ownership. A Minnesota Court of Appeals decision is pending.