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Lake Andes man re-indicted for allegedly killing horses

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LAKE ANDES -- A Lake Andes man has been reindicted for five counts of killing or injuring his neighbors' horses.

Ray Johanneson, 69, was originally indicted in July 2013 for allegedly shooting five horses, four of which reportedly died, that belonged to Lori Abdo-Smith and Charlie Smith.

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The Smiths claimed the shootings were racially motivated. Johanneson, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday, is white, and the Smiths are American Indian.

Abdo-Smith declined comment on the issue when contacted by The Daily Republic on Thursday afternoon.

Johanneson maintains his innocence, stating Thursday he didn't shoot the horses. He said many of the horses were let loose over five or six years and grazed in his corn, bean and wheat fields, destroying his crops.

The same day the horses were discovered dead, Johanneson said he reported about 27 horses eating his crops because they were starving to death. He said the Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office took photos of those horses and the damage they caused to his crops.

Johanneson said Thursday there is no racial issue.

The charges against him were dismissed by the court in March because witness names were not included in the indictment, which is required by law, said Scott Podhradsky, deputy Charles Mix County state's attorney.

The witnesses' names are now included on the indictment, which was refiled May 22.

Each charge is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty upon conviction of one year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.

A judge on Tuesday scheduled a jury trial for August.

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