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Wild horse shooters forfeit licenses for latest violations

RENO – Two Nevada men who spent six months in prison for killing federally protected mustangs avoided additional prison time as part of a plea deal reached with U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday after they broke a state trapping law.

Todd Davis, 46, and Joshua Keathley, 38, agreed to forfeit their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for two years in Nevada and all other U.S. states under the plea bargain arrangement U.S. Magistrate Robert McQuaid Jr. approved Wednesday in Reno.

The two Lovelock men also agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor citation in state court for failure to visit their steel leg-hold traps within 96 hours. They face a penalty of up to $192 each in fines and court costs for violating that law, which is intended to help minimize the suffering of animals whose feet are snared in the spring-loaded, metal jaws.

McQuaid could have sent the two back to prison because they violated conditions of their parole stemming from the November 2009 killing of five wild horses. But the judge agreed to continue the supervised release for the final three weeks it’s in effect.

McQuaid berated the men in November 2010 when he sentenced them for the mustang killings after they admitted they had been drinking and used the animals for target practice.

“I keep thinking about it, and I keep coming back to the senselessness of it,” he said at the time. “Drunken and boneheaded is not an excuse.”

During Wednesday’s hearing in federal court, which lasted less than 10 minutes, McQuaid noted the two men also apparently had violated a parole prohibition on consumption of alcohol but had little else to say about the February trapping citation.

“I understand there is a deal in the works,” he told lawyers for both sides.

John Springgate, a lawyer for Keathley, confirmed both would admit the violations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami confirmed prosecutors would accept the deal without seeking additional prison time.

McQuaid insisted they turn in any and all state licenses they may possess for hunting, trapping or fishing, “not just for Nevada.”

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