Animal Cruelty Charges Dismissed Against Michigan 4-H Queen

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A judge dismissed animal cruelty charges Monday against Oakland County's 4-H Club queen, who had been suspended and faced losing her crown if convicted.

Lapeer District Judge Laura Barnard dismissed the charges against Kate Mills, 20, who had been accused of torturing and killing animals at her family's farm in Lapeer County's Imlay Township. Charges remain in place for her father, Mark Mills, 46; mother Ellen Mills, 44; and brother, Andrew Mills, 19.

L.C. Scramlin, an Oakland County 4-H Club board member, said the board could reinstate Mills' crown during a planned vote June 18. Scramlin said last month her title was on hold pending resolution of the charges.

Barnard said a lease showing that Kate Mills did not live at home at the time of the March arrest led to Barnard's decision to dismiss the charges. Mills was living in East Lansing, where she is a full-time pre-veterinary student at Michigan State University.

The family was arrested after animal control officers removed seven dead lambs, a dead horse and three undernourished dogs from the farm, about 45 miles north of Detroit. They each were charged with a felony count of torturing and killing animals and misdemeanor charges of animal abandoning and cruelty, improper animal burial and having an unlicensed dog.

Family attorney David Richardson submitted evidence that the dog licenses were in Ellen Mills' name and a veterinary report that showed that a horse that died had been receiving medical treatment for an ongoing condition, The Flint Journal reported.

A message seeking comment from Richardson was left Monday afternoon.

The preliminary exam for the remaining family members is scheduled for June 28.

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