Billy Wall (center) in the Burnet office of attorney Eddie Shell (left), where the first settlement was announced in a civil suit filed in the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace court that charged him with cruelty to animals. Also present is attorney Austin Shell, who is assisting on the case, which is now in criminal court. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
Burnet County Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall plans to turn himself in to the Llano County Sheriff’s Office either Friday or Saturday, Nov. 18 or 19, on eight charges of cruelty to livestock animals, said his attorney, Austin Shell.
The Class A misdemeanor charges were signed Wednesday, Nov. 16, by Burnet County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Jane Marie Hurst and include a request of bail for $5,000 each, or a total of $40,000. Shell said Wall was planning to make bail.
Wall is not making a political statement by turning himself in to the Llano County Sheriff’s Office rather than Burnet County, Shell said.
“Llano processes faster,” he explained.
The eight charges include all 79 head of cattle seized by the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 8. They were grouped in sets to streamline the process of issuing warrants out of the JP’s office.
The criminal complaint leading to the charges was filed by Burnet County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Jewett, who wrote he had firsthand knowledge of the condition of the animals days before and during the seizure. Jewett visited the locations where the animals were being kept on Aug. 12, Aug. 31, and Sept. 5. He spoke with Wall on his first visit, telling him he would return to check on the cattle later in the month,
Jewett also sent photos of the cattle to Professor Joe Paschal, Ph.D., at Texas A&M University. Paschal replied that “some attempt should have been made to provide for these cattle.” He determined a Body Condition Score for the cattle of either 1 or 2 for all but one animal. BCS is used to determine the fatness or condition of cattle. The numbers range from 1-9, with 1 being “very emaciated” and 9 being “obese.”
The affidavit goes on to state that Jewett found several dead cows around empty or brackish water tanks.
“No clean water found around pens or on the property,” the affidavit reads. “Ground water tanks were all muddy and had dead cattle around. them. Even Wall stated he had five dead ones in one tank.”
He reported finding 10 skeletal remains of cows around four empty hay rings.
Wall settled a civil case in Burnet County Court at Law on Nov. 8, agreeing to forfeit the herd to the county for sale at auction. The money would be used to pay to cover the cost of moving and caring for the cows. On Nov. 10, the herd was sold at Jordan Cattle Auction in San Saba for $45,081.08, leaving about $18,000 to be paid to the county by Wall.
He now faces misdemeanor criminal charges, which could result in a fine of no more than $4,000 and up to one year in county jail for each of the eight charges.
“We haven’t made a decision on whether we will see a trial or not, but we will begin preparing for trial,” Shell told DailyTrib.com. “Our position is, how law enforcement can come out and kill some of your cattle and then charge you for it? This has cost (Wall) tens of thousands of dollars. It has been blown out of proportion. It’s also worth noting, this is all political.”
Wall is in his sixth year as a county commissioner. He was first elected in 2016. The Precinct 3 commissioner position will be on the election ballot in 2024.