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Dog-fighting consequences contested

Discussion in 'Dog Ordinances & Laws' started by fearlessknight, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. fearlessknight

    fearlessknight Good Dog

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Marion County arrests spur DA?s effort to make practice an organized crime

    In the state of Texas, a person charged with dog-fighting cannot be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, but one East Texas district attorney is working toward changing this.

    The Texas Penal Code defines organized criminal activity as three or more people committing or conspiring to commit certain crimes, including murder, aggravated assault, sexual assault and the manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances. Neither dog-fighting nor any form of animal cruelty are included in the crime list.

    Marion County District Attorney Bill Gleason said the charge of organized criminal activity enhances the charge against a defendant. For example, a misdemeanor charge combined with a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity raises the misdemeanor to a state jail felony charge.

    Gleason said two of 11 people arrested in Marion County in January on charges of participating in dog-fighting originally were charged with engaging in criminal activity, but those charges have been dropped. Five people pleaded guilty on Thursday to the misdemeanor charge of being spectators at a dog fight. Three people pleaded not guilty. Felony charges are pending against three other people in the case.

    "I thought it odd that dog-fighting wasn't in (the statutes) considering the outrage it causes," Gleason said.

    Gleason has solicited help from Texas Rep. Stephen Frost, D-Atlanta, asking for his assistance in adding dog-fighting to organized criminal activity. Attempts to contact Frost were not successful on Friday.

    "I think, given the upsurge in dog-fighting, it would certainly help put these operations out of business if we could add dog-fighting to those offenses ... charg(ed) under engaging in organized criminal activity," Gleason wrote in the letter.

    Gleason said Frost referred him to Kelly Heitkamp, a Longview attorney and animal activist. He said Heitkamp will work to bring information before the Texas legislature to add dog-fighting to the organized criminal activity list. He said he plans to keep in contact with Frost and Heitkamp regarding any progress being made.

    Messages left for Heitkamp were not returned on Friday.

    The five people who pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of being spectators at a dog fight are: Broderick Stewart, 48, of Texarkana; Curtis Giddens, 57, of Haywood, Okla.; Derrick Talton, 37, of Douglassville; Terrence Robertson, 34, of Tenaha; and Barbara Coulter, 37, of Texarkana.

    Stewart and Talton were sentenced to five days in jail, which Gleason said they had already served after their initial arrests. Officers had discovered a combined $4,000 in the men's possession when they were arrested, Gleason said.

    "They graciously agreed" to donate that money to the Humane Society of Marion County as part of their guilty pleas, Gleason said.

    Giddens, Robertson and Coulter were sentenced to one year probation and fined $500 each, Gleason said.

    Gerald Lowry, 47, of Texarkana; Carlos Kelly, 38, of Texarkana; and Clinton Capps, 29, of Douglassville pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor.

    Felony charges also are still pending against three other people in the case. Tyrone Luster, 35, of Jefferson, remains jailed on felony charges that he provided the arena for dog-fighting and participated in dog-fighting, Gleason said. He also is being held on a motion to revoke his probation on a previous drug charge.

    Luster owned 10 of the 12 dogs that authorities confiscated from the property in January, Gleason said. All of the animals had to be euthanized.

    Sean Miller, 35, of Texarkana also is charged with a felony because he brought a dog to the fight, Gleason said. He has been released from jail on bond. A third man, Howard "Bobo" Lee Williams has been named in a felony arrest warrant on the same charge. Authorities are still searching for Williams, 32, of Tenaha, who has previously been seen in Longview, Gleason said.
  2. simms

    simms Good Dog

    Nor should it be!!!! Eqauting human crimes to animals crimes.... Man I hope this guy doesnt have anything devestating happen to him or a loved one along side the crimes he wishes to compare an animal to. He needs to worry about convicting real criminals....

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