LABELLE (AP) — A Florida rancher convicted of letting cows starve to death over several months has been sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service.


Hendry County Judge James Sloan sentenced Robert David Starkweather, 52, on Friday, according to court records. He must also pay court costs and restitution. Starkweather was convicted in January of 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. The judge adjudicated him guilty on two of the counts while withholding adjudication on the others.


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.