A case involving sexual abuse of a miniature horse, rape, drugs, and prostitution

A Wilmer man today pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a miniature horse and raping a woman, and a judge somewhat reluctantly accepted a deal offered by prosecutors for a three-year prison sentence.

None of the participants in the courtroom – the judge, prosecutor and defendant Eric Steven Easley — appeared satisfied with the result.

Easley, 29, hesitated when Mobile County Circuit Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston asked him if he was pleading guilty because he was guilty.

“Not necessarily. … It’s in my best interest to plead guilty,” he said.

Johnston told Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright that her description of the rape was more violent than he had believed.

“Right now, I’m a little bit shaky about taking it (the plea),” he said.

Wright said prosecutors had issues related to the victim in the case. She said the woman had a drug problem, a warrant for her arrest and recently had eluded police. Prosecuting the rape under those circumstances would have been difficult, she said.

“It’s pretty disturbing, probably top 10 disturbing case,” Johnston said.

Under terms of the plea bargain, the judge sentenced Easley to 15 years in prison and suspended all but three years. After serving that time, the defendant will be on probation for five years, and Johnston ordered him to serve it under the intense supervision of the Mobile County Community Corrections Center.

The judge also dismissed animal cruelty and domestic violence charges as part of the deal.

The assault on the miniature horse occurred on Oct. 29, 2010. Wright said Easley went onto the property on Wilmer Road, tied the animal’s tail to a fence post inside the horse pen and then sexually assaulted it.

The owner later found her 2-year-old horse, Ebony Ice, injured and traumatized. She also discovered Easley’s wallet inside the pen.

Easley pleaded guilty to killing or disabling livestock. His lawyer explained to him what that meant. “The horse is not able to procreate,” defense attorney Robert F. “Cowboy Bob” Clark said.

The rape occurred on the following July 16, after Easley had gotten out of jail on bail in the horse molestation case. According to the account offered by Wright, the woman woke up to find the defendant in her kitchen and asked what he was doing there.

The two argued, and Easley slapped the woman and tried to choke her, Wright said. She said he took the woman’s cell phone, waited for it to get dark and then ripped off her clothes and raped her. Later, the prosecutor said, he made the victim take a bath and threatened to drown her if she tried to get away.

The woman managed to escape the house the next day and go for help, Wright said.

Outside the courtroom, Clark disputed Wright’s account. He said the victim is a professional prostitute and that she lived with his client for about year.

Clark said the woman went to police after an argument. “I think it had something to do with drugs,” he said.

Still, Clark said, going to trial would have risked the possibility that Easley would be found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He noted that his client already has been in jail 14 months awaiting trial and will have to served only 22 more to finish his sentence.

Clark also said Easley had been receive mental health treatment before his arrest on the rape charge.

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