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SAN FERNANDO : Mixed Verdicts Returned in Reindeer Cruelty Case

A jury returned mixed verdicts Thursday in the case of a father-son business team that used reindeer, acquitting the younger man of animal cruelty but deadlocking in favor of convicting the father.

Stuart T. Miller, 52, and William T. Miller, 31, were accused of keeping a herd of reindeer in a debris-littered San Fernando Valley lot and of failing to provide food, water or adequate shelter for the animals.

A San Fernando jury acquitted the elder Miller on a misdemeanor charge of possessing a wild animal without a permit. But the jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting him of animal cruelty.

The city attorney’s office has decided to retry Miller on the animal cruelty count, said spokesman Mike Qualls.

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The same jury returned a not guilty plea on the animal cruelty charge against William Miller but convicted him of possessing a wild animal without a permit. He faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 26.

City animal control officers found the eight reindeer at a lot in the 12000 block of Jolette Avenue in Granada Hills. The Millers, who are Malibu residents, run Miller & Sons Christmas Tree Co., based in Mission Hills.

Shortly after the officers arrived, one of animals died of injuries suffered after the deer got tangled in wire fencing and castoff coat hangers in the lot, authorities said.


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