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Manning man guilty in horse sex case


Tony Hall-Rivas left quirky signs around barn, hinting at unorthodox prowler

He left Lemonhead wrappers and half-eaten lollipops, cigarette butts and sexual lubricants. He moved grooming brushes and made footprints in the soft groundcover.

Last week, the case that started with a few mysterious items in a Manning barn ended when Washington County Circuit Court Judge Jim Fun convicted Tony Hall-Rivas, 47, of five counts of second-degree burglary, a Class C felony, and eight counts of sexual abuse of an animal, a Class A misdemeanor.

In September, shortly after she first noticed the candy wrappers, property-owner Shannon Lily saw a man running out of her barn. She and her husband bought a guard dog and a firearm, said Lori Virden, a friend of the couple. They also called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

In October 2012, Det. Randy Burdick installed the first of what would become an arsenal of eight motion-activated cameras, some of which had zoom and infrared capabilities. During the next four months, as the trespassing continued, Burdick collected video from in and around the Lilys’ barn, house and horse arena.

It showed a man between the Lilys’ two castrated male horses, touching their genitalia and engaging in other sexual activities both with and near the animals.

Burdick, who had dealt with Hall-Rivas in previous incidents, said he didn’t recognize the man in the videos “because his hair and face have deteriorated.”

On Jan. 21, investigators recovered a white hat in the horse arena and submitted it for DNA processing.

Washington County Sheriff’s deputies reported finding jars and tubes of sexual lubricant, cigarette boxes and butts, and a collection of homemade sex toys deposited in the barn, pasture and burn pile.

On March 20, Shannon Lily had a face-to-face moment with the intruder before he fled the barn.

Police finally arrested Hall-Rivas April 10 in his home, less than a mile from the Lilys’ property.

At the trial, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Freeman played Burdick’s videos, after which defense attorney Lee Wachocki questioned their clarity and the ability of detectives to accurately identify the intruder from the dark, grainy images.

Deputy Dawn Vandehay played audio snippets of a recorded interview with Hall-Rivas after his arrest, in which he appears to confess to the crimes.

Vandehay said matchboxes, candy wrappers, lubricant and hairbrushes found in the barn were not dusted for fingerprints because the environment destroyed such evidence. A cigarette butt recovered Oct. 4 from a different area of the Lilys’ property carried someone else’s DNA.

Detectives did not collect evidence from Hall-Rivas’ house because of its dilapidated state, Vanderhay said. She opted to stay outside the structure, which lacked floorboards and running water.

Detective Brandon Talbott, who is also a horse owner, said it would be difficult to calm a gelding to the point where it would allow the kind of contact recorded in videos.

“A horse won’t just let you touch them there,” Talbott said.

In the recorded interview, Hall-Rivas reported being kicked on his first trip to the barn, and Talbott suspected the hard candies might have been used as a treat to gain the animals’ trust.

“The videos show intentional sexual contact with the animals for Mr. Hall-Rivas’ pleasure,” Fun said. “There’s no way to interpret it any other way.”

Hall-Rivas, who has a 29-year criminal history, will be sentenced July 1.