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RUTLAND, Vt. – The farming community in one Vermont town is up in arms regarding a manslaughter trial.
Last July, authorities say a Scottish Highland bull escaped its pasture and ran into a nearby road, leading to a deadly crash.
Now, prosecutors have charged the bull’s owner with involuntary manslaughter for not properly containing his animal.
Dozens of fellow farmers showed up to the Rutland County courtroom, saying a guilty verdict could set a dangerous precedent for them in the future.
“If you can be put in prison for 15 years if your animal gets loose and causes an accident, it is really changing a lot of people’s way of thinking. This isn’t about farms. This is about anyone who owns any kind of an animal,” Raymond Duquette, with the Vermont Farm Bureau, told WCAX.
“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?” Mary Anderson asked.
Court documents say that this wasn’t the first time the bull got out.
Instead, officials say police were dispatched to that road five times in the months leading up to the deadly crash.
Prosecutors say this is not an attack on farmers but rather a necessary step to protect public safety.