President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman on Monday at Senetencing Court rejected the plea agreement of a DuBois man accused of starving a horse to death.

Joseph Clyde Daniel Dush, 66, had come to a plea agreement with former Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. for Dush to plead guilty to neglect of animals, a misdemeanor of the third degree, and be sentenced to probation. Dush was also originally charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony of the third degree, in addition to the neglect of animals charge.

However, Deputy District Attorney Trudy Lumadue said District Attorney Ryan Sayers is opposed to the plea deal and asked Ammerman to reject the plea.

Ammerman asked why the district attorney’s office didn’t just withdraw the plea. Lumadue said the plea was signed by Dush and Shaw and said Sayers believes the best way to handle the situation is to request that the court reject the plea.

Dush’s attorney, David Hopkins of DuBois, said of all those living at the home, his client is the least culpable. He said the horse belonged to Dush’s wife, Brenda Marie Dush, 51, of DuBois, and she is the most culpable. He also said there was a 24-year-old living in the home at the time.

Last February, Brenda Dush pled guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals and neglect of animals and was sentenced Ammerman to serve nine months to two years in the Clearfield County Jail plus three years consecutive probation. He also fined her $300 plus court costs, according to a previous article in The Progress.

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Hopkins also said Joseph Dush suffers from a myriad of mental and physical health problems and was hospitalized at UPMC Medical Center for 10 days prior to the charges being filed.

He said Joseph Dush suffers from bi polar disorder and is receiving treatment from the VA hospital and asked Ammerman to accept the plea of guilty but mentally ill to allow Joseph Dush to continue to receive his treatments.

Lumadue noted that Joseph Dush was sent home from the hospital on Jan. 17, 2018 and state police found the horse deceased on Jan. 22.

Ammerman said the “but mentally ill” addition to the plea has no affect on sentencing. He also said he didn’t have a chance to read Joseph Dush’s medical records so he is rejecting the plea and placed the case back on the trial list.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Jan. 22, 2018, Sandy Township Police responded to 290 Kilmer Rd. and found the emaciated horse deceased on the property. It had appeared the horse was tethered outside to a tree for a long period of time without protection from the elements.

The horse was sent to Penn State University and Associate Professor Jenny S. Fisher, VMD, of the Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory determined the horse died of emaciation due to malnutrition because of underfeeding and starvation.