Defendant Found Guilty of Aggravated Animal Cruelty

Today Robert David Starkweather, 52, of Immokalee, was found guilty of 12 felony counts of
Aggravated Animal Cruelty following a four-day trial in Hendry County.

During late 2017 and early 2018, the defendant owned 144 cows and calves that he had in a
pasture off Ft. Denaud Road in LaBelle. In March 2018, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office
Agricultural Crimes Unit responded to the pasture after getting a report about a downed cow.
Deputies found 13 dead cows and 131 emaciated cows and calves at the scene.

The evidence presented at trial showed the defendant failed to provide adequate food, water, and
medication to the animals. Further, he ignored signs, over a four-month period, that the cows
were in distress and suffering from malnutrition. The animals were taken by the Hendry County
Sheriff’s Office from the location.

The State Attorney’s Office filed a total of 131 counts involving animal cruelty and animal
abuse. There was one charge for each living animal. There were also 13 counts filed for
Improper Disposal of a Dead Animal. The jury was presented photographs of every animal found
on the property. They deliberated for more than four hours before returning the guilty verdict for
the 12 felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty.

“It is important for people to realize that improperly caring for any animal in a manner that
violates the law, will not be ignored. Charges will be filed if the evidence supports the
allegation,” said State Attorney Amira Fox.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 26th. Assistant State Attorney Kimberlee Mitton
prosecuted the case.

Samantha Syoen
Communications Director
State Attorney’s Office