Darrington man sentenced in death of 2 horses he starved

He submitted an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging a jury would likely convict him.

EVERETT — A Darrington man who let two horses starve to death and skipped out on court hearings was sentenced over the summer.

The horses were found with no food — no hay and nothing to forage — and the only source of water was frozen in the cold winter three years ago.

Prosecutors wrote that Andrew Floe, 58, mistreated the horses between October and December 2017. They endured “substantial and unjustifiable physical pain,” causing suffering and, finally, death.

Floe was sentenced in Snohomish County Superior Court on Aug. 18 with two counts of second-degree animal cruelty. He initially was charged with first-degree animal cruelty.

The sentence called for 364 days in jail, though that was suspended. Floe was placed on probation for two years, during which time he can’t own or care for any animals. He also will have to pay court fines.

He made an Alford plea, meaning he doesn’t admit his guilt but acknowledges that, based on the evidence, a jury likely would convict him.

An animal control officer first responded on Dec. 6, 2017, to reports of a sorrel quarter horse gelding lying dead under some power lines off of Highway 530, outside Darrington. The horse was emaciated; his ribs, spine and hip bones were visible through the skin. An animal control officer said it appeared the horse had been dropped off.

The person who reported the dead horse said he appeared to match one owned by a man, identified as Floe, who lived about a half-mile away.

The next day, the animal control officer found another dead sorrel quarter, also emaciated, just a hundred yards away from the first. She’d been dead long enough to be frozen and covered in ice.

Necropsies showed the horses had little body fat and that they weren’t killed by injury or illness.

Six other horses at the man’s home also appeared under-fed, though Floe claimed otherwise. Their only shelter appeared to be a falling down tarp. At least two were taken to a veterinarian for emergency care and were found with lice and skin infections.

At the time of his arrest, Floe denied that he owned the two horses that were found dead. He claimed not to know who they belonged to.

Early on in court proceedings, Floe was an elusive defendant, as he skipped court hearings and became the subject of arrest warrants. He was scheduled to plead guilty as early as July 2019, but he had questions about his plea that couldn’t be answered right away, according to court documents. The next month, he backed out of the plea altogether. The trial was delayed several times before he appeared in court in August, when he made the Alford plea.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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