Brenda Tonasket was among a group of protesters who rallied in front of the Vernon Law Courts prior to an appearance by Carla Jean Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman in August 2019. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Alleged Okanagan animal abusers still awaiting trial date

Trial date expected to be set within the next three weeks

A North Okanagan mother and daughter accused of abusing dozens of animals still don’t have a trial date, but the process that began almost one year ago is inching forward.

Carla Christman and her daughter, Chelsea Beluse-Christman, face charges including unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and failing to provide necessities for an animal. Beluse-Christman also faces a charge of obstructing a peace officer. None of the charges have been proven in court, and the two have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The animals – 42 horses, four dogs and four hogs – were seized by the BC SPCA in March 2019 after two rotting horse carcasses were found on the Christmans’ Irish Creek Road property (north of Vernon).

Crown and defence counsels attempted to establish the necessary trial length at a pre-trial conference on Wednesday morning at the Vernon Law courts.

The Crown stated it would need three days to make its case and get through 12 witnesses. The defence said it would need even more time to get through an even lengthier list of witnesses.

“I was given a list of 54 witnesses,” said Graham Kay, defence counsel for Carla Christman.

John Deuling, defence counsel for Beluse-Christman, described the road to a trial date as “torturous.”

Among the various witness accounts, the trial will hear evidence from two expert veterinarians who inspected the animals.

In past court appearances, local animal rights activists have protested outside the Vernon Law Courts against the Christmans’ right to own animals.

Judge Richard Hewson said he expected a trial date to be set within the next three weeks.

READ MORE: Judge adjourns animal cruelty charges of North Okanagan mother and daughter

READ MORE: BC SPCA reopens animal cruelty investigation at Abbotsford pig farm


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

AnimalsCourt

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan Spirits donating free sanitizer to those most at risk during COVID-19 pandemic

The Okanagan distillery has ceased spirits operations and has produced over 3,000 litres of sanitizer since March 26

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

First responders continue to rally in support of health care workers in Kelowna

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters for the second night in a row

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

Vehicle goes up in smoke in Okanagan garage

Fire department on-scene in 200 block of Poplar Point Drive near Knox Mountain in Kelowna

COSAR rescues two lost hikers from Okanagan Mountain Park

Two male hikers were overdue from a hike they left for on the morning of March 28

Most Read