Animal neglect case against Burnet County official moves to different court

Burnet County Commissioner Bill Wall appeared in a county courtroom Friday afternoon not to deny his cattle were in bad condition. 

When he walked out of court and onto the Burnet town square, Wall offered a brief explanation, saying "All farmers and ranchers always want so more rain, for sure, no doubt."

When asked if he was neglecting his cattle, Wall said, "I don’t feel like that."

Images provided to FOX 7 Austin from The Highlander newspaper show Wall's cattle looked malnourished earlier this week. 80 head were seized from his ranch near Bertram after the sheriff's office received complaints.

"The state has to prove that he unreasonably was cruel to cattle, he wasn't unreasonable," said Eddie Shell, Wall’s attorney.

Shell told FOX 7 Austin they'll produce receipts to prove food and care were being provided to the cattle. "I'm sure there's a lot of ranchers and farmers over Texas watching this case, because they are probably looking out their front door saying, oh my god my cattle are thin," said Shell.

Many ranchers have struggled with the drought. In August, FOX 7 Austin went to an auction in Lampasas as a mass selloff of livestock was underway. FOX 7 Austin asked Shell why Wall didn't take his cows to auction.

"He was trying, he took a gamble, like thousands and thousands of farmers and ranchers do, throughout Texas and have done in the history of ranching and farming in Texas, he took a gamble and lost. The rain did not come, if it had come in June, we wouldn't be sitting here," said Shell.

The seizure warrant was signed by Burnet County Justice of the Peace Pct 2 Judge Lisa Whitehead, who recused herself from the hearing. 

Mason County JP Pct 1 Judge James Treg Hudson was brought in to hear the case Friday and prosecutors from the Williamson County Attorney’s Office were also called in. It is unclear who will preside over the case when it’s rescheduled in the Burnet County JP Pct 3 court. Commissioner Wall's legal team has pitched a settlement deal but would not provide details. 

It’s not known when the case will be heard again. Shell said if they lose in the JP Pct. 3 court in Marble Falls, he will appeal the case to a higher County Court at Law. For now, Wall’s cattle will remain at the Burnet County fairgrounds where they are being fed and have access to water.