Court outburst includes alleged threat to Fresno probation chief

June 11, 2013 12:18:51 AM PDT
A rambling courtroom outburst Monday by an animal cruelty suspect included claims of a death threat against a top Fresno County official.

Monday was the fourth time Kathryn Jones was scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on 15 counts of felony animal cruelty. She skipped two of those, and she was late Monday, but when she did show up, she brought some verbal fireworks with her.

Emaciated horses on her Reedley area ranch are what first drew law enforcement attention to Kathryn Jones. It took a year before prosecutors filed criminal charges against her, but when she finally appeared in court, she drew a lot more scrutiny.

"You know the cases I'm associated with," she told Judge Don Penner. "You know them very well."

The 52-year-old showed up late Monday, after Judge Penner had already issued a warrant for her arrest. And when she stepped to the podium, her rambling speech about why Judge Penner shouldn't even be allowed to hear her case included word of a threat to a public official.

"My boyfriend, he's being investigated by the FBI -- William Shane Valenzuela," she said. "Mr. Penner, you know exactly what I'm talking about."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Judge Penner replied.

"Mr. Penner, he's supposedly put a hit out on your wife," Jones said. "He's being investigated for that."

"I don't know anything about that Ms. Jones," Judge Penner said.

Judge Penner's wife is Linda Penner -- the chief of probation in Fresno County.

William Shane Valenzuela has had contact with her department because he's a convicted felon who'd been arrested a couple times recently for violating his probation. But the alleged threat was news to the judge, and to his wife's department.

"We have no knowledge of that and if that were the case, I think we'd have been notified by now," said Probation Department Division Director Rick Chavez.

Jones left the court in handcuffs, but not before whispering to an Action News crew that she had a lot more stories to tell. She's actually due back in Judge Penner's court Tuesday because she didn't have an attorney Monday.

Of the 15 horses seized from her farm last year, two died. The SPCA and Silverwings Horse Rescue are working to find new homes for the rest.


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