A Hendry County jury found Robert David Starkweather, 52, guilty Friday of 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty, according to court records. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 26.

LABELLE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida rancher has been convicted of letting cows starve to death over several months.


A Hendry County jury found Robert David Starkweather, 52, guilty Friday of 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty, according to court records. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 26.


"It is important for people to realize that improperly caring for any animal in a manner that violates the law will not be ignored," State Attorney Amira Fox said in a statement.


The Hendry County Sheriff's Office agricultural crimes unit responded to a LaBelle pasture owned by Starkweather in March 2018 following reports of a downed cow, prosecutors said. Deputies reported finding 13 dead cows and 131 emaciated cows and calves. The animals were taken from the property.


Starkweather failed to provide adequate food, water, and medication to the animals, prosecutors said during the trial. He also ignored signs over a four-month period that the cows were in distress and suffering from malnutrition.