LEXINGTON — A rural Overton mother and son pleaded guilty last month to causing the death of their livestock in 2018.

Court records say Diane Wempen, 60, and Eugene Wempen Jr., 34, each were convicted of one count of felony abandonment or cruel neglect of animals in Dawson County District Court following their guilty pleas on May 24.

In exchange for the Wempens’ pleas, three additional counts of felony abandonment or cruelty neglect of animals and four misdemeanor cruelty to animal charges were dismissed for each individual.

The Wempens and the patriarch of the family, Eugene Wempen Sr., 60, were charged with animal abuse in April 2018 following a report of animal neglect on their farm northeast of Overton, according to a 2018 Dawson County Sheriff’s Office press release. Court records say when a deputy arrived at the scene he observed 55 animal carcasses in corrals and other animals that showed signs of malnutrition and sickness.

A search warrant then was obtained, the news release said, and about 75 live cattle, along with llamas, donkeys, miniature ponies, horses, goats and sheep were relocated.

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Hay allegedly was found on the property, court records say. DCSO and livestock professionals immediately fed the animals.

Diane Wempen and Eugene Wempen Jr. await their sentencing on July 29. They each face up to two years in prison.

Eugene Wempen Sr. pleaded no contest in December to one count of felony cruelty and neglect to animals. A no contest plea is neither an admittance nor denial of guilt, but the plea is treated the same as a guilty plea.

He was sentenced in February to 2 ½ years probation and was forbidden to own, possess or reside with animals for 15 years. He also was sentenced to 91 days of jail and credited for one day served. He won’t be required to serve the remaining jail sentence if he follows his probation terms.

@erikadpritchard

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