Beef processor gets probation in calf cruelty case

DIMMITT, Texas (AP) - A Texas Panhandle beef processor has been placed on a year's probation after a judge granted deferred adjudication of the animal cruelty case against him and five workers at his plant.

Deferred adjudication means the case against Kirt Espenson will be dismissed if he completes the probationary period and pays the $4,000 fine assessed him Wednesday. Castro County District Attorney James Horton says the five workers indicted with Espenson on felony counts of cruelty to livestock remain at large. Horton says he suspects they have sought sanctuary in Mexico.

A call to Espenson went unanswered Wednesday evening.

The case arose last spring from a video made by an animal welfare group. It showed pickaxes and hammers being used to bludgeon calves to death at Espenson's E6 Cattle Co. in Hart.

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