PETA: Tioga Downs arson suspect will face animal cruelty charges


NICHOLS — The suspect in the arson fire at Tioga Downs that killed 30 horses and destroyed a barn could be facing additional charges, according to a press release from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization.

Thirty-two-year-old Athens resident Boyd H. Fenton has already been charged with arson in the third degree, a Class C felony, as well as burglary in the third degree, criminal mischief in the second degree and assault in the second degree, all Class D felonies.

But according to PETA, Tioga County District Attorney Kirk Martin will pursue additional charges including felony animal cruelty for the killing of all 30 horses.

“PETA called for cruelty-to-animals charges to be added to the other charges on the day the fire was set, and we then asked the DA to charge specifically under New York statute § 361, which prohibits the willful destruction of a horse used for racing. Martin says that the alleged arsonist will be charged separately for every horse who died — that means an additional two dozen or more felony charges,” the press release from PETA said.

Fenton is currently in the Tioga County Correctional Facility being held on the assault charge, which came from the injury to a trainer who attempted to save the horses from the fire and was treated for facial and arm burns. The other felony charges would not have been enough to hold the suspect due to New York’s bail reform laws.

Martin told the Morning Times that the animal cruelty charges would need to come through a new indictment.

The investigation into the deadly fire is ongoing.