Court roundup | Kidnapping suspect pleads guilty, rancher’s animal cruelty trial delayed

Man accused of kidnapping pleads guilty

On Thursday morning, a man pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and assaulting his girlfriend.

Edward Starkey was accused of repeatedly attacking the victim, Jane Doe, over the course of a week after kidnapping her and forcing her to remain against her will at his trailer in the Mad River area. Starkey pleaded guilty to kidnapping — with a special allegation of causing Doe great bodily injury — and domestic violence.

“He would pick up a stick and hit her on the back, arms and head,” Shelly Small, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said.

The injuries Starkey inflicted on Doe resulted in her hospitalization, where medical professionals found a subdural hematoma and nasal fracture, as Starkey had also hit the victim in the face and strangled her into unconsciousness, according to Small.

Had Starkey gone to a preliminary hearing, he would also have faced allegations of felony torture and sexual penetration by a foreign object, but those two charges were dropped as part of his plea.

Starkey, who was taken into custody on Feb. 7 after Doe escaped his trailer on Feb. 2, was present for the proceedings and will be sentenced Aug. 10 at 8:30 a.m.

Trial for rancher accused of animal cruelty delayed

Also on Thursday morning, the second trial for Ray Christie, a rancher accused of animal cruelty, was pushed out to 2023.

Raymond Christie
Raymond Christie (Contributed)

The continuance was filed by Christie’s defense, Rick Richmond, because Christie’s increasingly poor health made the trial, which was set to begin on Aug. 1, unfeasible. Christie has been undergoing treatment for basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, but also recently needed treatment for a left bundle branch block, which impeded electrical impulses to the left side of his heart.

“He probably had an undetected heart attack,” Richmond said.

Christie was convicted by a jury in 2019 of 38 counts of misdemeanor littering of his cattle’s corpses, but the jury was hung on the animal cruelty felony counts. He is now accused of depriving his cattle of drink and shelter, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of the animals on his property.

Christie’s new trial date was set for Jan. 17, 2023, with a confirmation hearing Dec. 8 and an assignment hearing on Jan. 13.

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.