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Burnet County commissioner forfeits cattle, which will be sold at auction

Attorney Eddie Shell, Burnet County Commissioner Billy Wall, attorney Austin Shell

Attorney Eddie Shell (left) reads a statement to the media in his Burnet office with Burnet County Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall and attorney Austin Shell. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The 79 head of cattle recently seized from Burnet County Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall will be sold at auction in Mason on Monday, Oct. 3, Lampasas on Wednesday, Oct. 5, and San Saba on Thursday, Oct. 6. 

An agreed motion to forfeit Wall’s herd to Burnet County was signed in the Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace courtroom in Marble Falls on Friday, Sept. 30, with Judge Jane Marie Hurst presiding. The cattle were seized Sept. 8 after public complaints of animal cruelty were investigated by the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office. 

The estimated cost to the county, which includes the herding, moving, care, and feeding of the animals, according to the settlement, is $32,853.94. 

According to the agreement, Wall will be responsible for any costs the county incurs that are not covered by the sale of the animals. The cattle are at the Burnet County fairgrounds, where they are under the care of large animal veterinarian Dr. Dan McBride. 

Wall was not present at the Marble Falls hearing, which was followed a half-hour later by the reading of a media statement at Attorney Eddie Shell’s office in Burnet. Shell is representing Wall in the case. He read a page-and-a-half statement that included quotes from Wall. 

“I am humbled by the amount of support I have received from the people in Precinct 3 and Burnet County overall,” Wall said in the statement. “I have been commissioner in Precinct 3 for almost six years. I am committed to reimbursing Burnet County for any expenses that have been incurred during this ordeal. The last thing I want is for the taxpayers of Burnet County to bare the burden of these expenses.”

He pointed out in the statement that he was willing to leave the cattle on his ranch under the supervision of the county or a designated agent of the county. Moving the herd caused the deaths of five cattle, including one that had to be euthanized when it broke a leg, according to the statement.

“If Burnet County had simply come to my house and indicated that they felt my cattle were underfed and stressed, I would have loaded them up and taken them to the sale myself,” he said “I believe the theatrics of this maneuver was wholly unnecessary.” 

Shell said the county was not justified in confiscating the herd.

“The ranchers and cattle owners around Texas and other states are going through the worst drought in 128 years,” he said. “Ranchers in Texas have very few choices during a drought. There are no good choices.”

The case was prosecuted by the Williamson County Attorney’s Office and originally heard in Burnet County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Lisa Whitehead’s courtroom on Sept. 16. Whitehead recused herself from the deliberations, bringing in Mason County Justice of the Peace Treg Hudson. Both parties agreed to move the hearing to Burnet County’s Precinct 3, which is where the cattle were originally located and where Wall lives. 

Wall was first elected to the Burnet County Commissioners Court in 2016.

dakota@thepicayune.com

2 thoughts on “Burnet County commissioner forfeits cattle, which will be sold at auction

  1. If he is not competent to care for his cattle he is not competent to look after his constituents. Remove him from office and elect a replacement in special election.

  2. A responsible Adult should not have to be told his cattle are under feed and in distress. He may not have had grass to feed them. But, he could have bought them feed. He choose to have them then he needed to take care of them. And as far as “the whole theatric of this maneuver” not being necessary. Obviously it was or they would have not been there.

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