The second of two defendants in an animal cruelty case agreed Friday to accept responsibility for the maltreatment of a horse and was ordered to serve volunteer hours in a veterinary clinic.

In a plea bargain, Laura Valencia, 35, of Bloomfield entered a no-contest plea to one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty involving an underweight mare seized from her home in April.

Three other charges, a felony related to a horse that died and two other misdemeanors in connection with the care of a third underweight horse and a dehydrated dog, were dismissed as part of the plea.

Judge Ren?Chouteau ordered Valencia to serve one year of informal probation and complete 20 hours of community service within the next four months.

"I want that performed in a veterinary office," he told her. She also must pay a $100 fine.

Prosecutor Marianna Green said the deal was acceptable because Valencia's boyfriend, Salvador Barrera, 35, was convicted of a felony in the horse death and two misdemeanors in connection with the other horses.

After a four-day trial last week, jurors deadlocked on the charges against Valencia, leaning 11-1 in favor of guilt on the horse cruelty charges.

Jurors said the lone holdout didn't believe Valencia bore the same responsibility to care for the animals as her boyfriend. The couple lived together and had children together but weren't married. Jurors said the holdout said she would have voted to convict Valencia had the couple been married.

The plea bargain came Friday as prosecutors were ready to announce whether they were going to retry Valencia on the counts the jury couldn't resolve.

Barrera is being held in Sonoma County Jail without bail pending his sentencing Nov. 26. He could be ordered to serve a maximum of three years in prison and pay hefty fines.

The couple was charged with animal cruelty after Animal Control officers in November discovered the corpse of a severely emaciated horse on their Bloomfield property.

Two other horses were described as underweight, and no food and water were found in the animals' pen.

You can reach Staff Writer L.A. Carter at 568-5312 or

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