A Lancaster County man who shot a horse pulling an Amish buggy last November pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one to two years in prison followed by four years’ probation.
Timothy Antonio Diggs, Jr. of Ronks, PA pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals, five counts of reckless endangerment and one count of propulsion of missiles.
In separate charges, he also pleaded guilty to four counts of receiving stolen property, one count of reckless endangerment, for shooting a rifle close to residences near his home, and one count of altering or destructing a vehicle identification number. After developing Diggs as a suspect in the horse shooting, East Lampeter Township police searched his home and found two stolen rifles and a stolen motorcycle. One of the guns was the firearm used to shoot the horse as a car in which Diggs was a passenger passed it.
Diggs, who had no prior criminal record, said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but "wasn't under the right influence at the time" because he was abusing cough medicine.
"There is not a rational explanation for your behavior," Judge David Ashworth said. "You've got a weapon and you're shooting horses. Why should I believe you're no harm to the community?"
Diggs apologized and said he would take it back if he could.
The horse was pulling a buggy carrying the Levi Lapp family around 9 pm on November 24 when it was shot. The occupants heard what they thought was a firecracker, and both vehicles continued on without stopping. The buggy continued home, about a mile, and as the owner started to unhook the buggy he found blood on the horse’s mouth. A vet was called but the horse died of a chest wound shortly before he arrived.
The occupants of the buggy included Lapp’s wife and three children ages 12, 9 and 7. No one was hurt.
Ashworth said the sentence was the maximum he could impose without sending Diggs to state prison. Diggs will serve his time in Lancaster County Prison. Ashworth warned him that if he should reappear in court, “I’ll put you in jail for as long as I can.”
Diggs was also ordered to pay more than $3,000 restitution, attend anger management classes and undergo drug and alcohol treatment. Restitution isn't for the horse, because Lapp didn't want it, prosecutor Christine Wilson said.