Defense attorneys for Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen took steps Monday to suppress witness statements as well as evidence collected by authorities when they searched his dog-sledding business in December.
That evidence includes witness reports provided by former employees of Krabloonik, whom MacEachen’s defense argues have a bias against MacEachen.
Filed by defense attorney Greg Greer, one motion says that the search, in which eight animals were seized from the Snowmass operation, was done without a valid warrant because the affidavit supporting it did not show probable cause. The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office charged MacEachen with eight counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in December, one for each animal seized.
Greer alleges that the majority of the information used to justify the search was not current at the time the warrant was granted. The affidavit for the warrant uses information provided by former mushers Curtis Hungate and Christian Lowry but does not specify when they worked at Krabloonik. And information provided by Hungate on the feeding and breeding of the sled dogs does not specify a date, the motion says.
“Although the information asserted in that paragraph does not suggest or support an inference of any criminal activity, and indeed shows the opposite, the affiant’s careful avoidance of time-references is notable,” the motion says.
Other anecdotes, including one about a dog that allegedly froze to death and an interview with a veterinarian who used to treat the animals, occurred 11 months and 10 months prior to the search-warrant application, the motion said.
The motion also takes issue with Lowry and Hungate’s testimonies in that they are not “citizen witnesses” because they are former employees.
“They were assuredly dog-handlers employed by the business operation which was, according to the complaint, neglecting or mistreating dogs,” the motion says. “They were, to all appearances, complicit in whatever criminal activity the State asserts was occurring at the times concerning which those informants had knowledge.”
Although the affidavit does not include any information reported by former general manager Guy Courtney, it does mention him as a witness who was interviewed by the Snowmass Village Police Department. Courtney resigned from his position in October while attempting to purchase Krabloonik from MacEachen.
Pete Fowler, a private investigator hired by MacEachen, said in an affidavit included in Greer’s filings that Courtney and Hungate had “a personal bias as well as personal motivations in making these allegations.”
Hungate was involved in a child-custody dispute with MacEachen’s daughter, Bryna, and was “using threats of reporting as leverage,” Fowler said.
The motion includes a copy of a text message sent by Hungate to Bryna MacEachen saying former mushers would testify against the kennel owner during a hearing last September. Hungate was trying to prevent Bryna MacEachen from bringing the child they have together to Krabloonik because he did not consider it a good environment for the boy.
Courtney was involved in the purchase negotiations, as was Dr. Alan Hallman, the vet interviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, Fowler noted.
And, Fowler brought to light a New Mexico case in which Courtney was found to have committed fraud. A six-figure judgment was awarded in the case. Greer also filed a motion to strike the counts against his client.
MacEachen has asked for a hearing to contest the search-warrant affidavit. A motions hearing is currently set for Aug. 14. The trial is Oct. 8 through 10.