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Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009County: Wilkes
Charges: Felony CTA, Felony Non-CTA
» Tavaris Ramsey
» Avery E. Mathis
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
Evidence of dog fighting and drugs were found earlier this week at a home in Wilkes County.
Two people were arrested. 30-year-old Lawanda Ramsey and her husband, 31-year old Tavaris Ramsey.
Tavaris facing some serious dog fighting charges after nine pit bulls are taken from the property and roughly nine more dead animals are found.
When the Washington Police Department went in with a search warrant on Tuesday they were shocked at what they found. Cocaine, marijuana, almost a dozen dead animals around the property and nine more pit bulls...trained to kill.
Investigators believe this is the house where illegal drug use and illegal dogfighting were going on for months. Lieutenant Joseph Nelson has seen a lot in his 20 years in law enforcement, but nothing quite like this.
"This is the worst dogfighting or animal cruelty case that I've investigated or worked here in this community. I think they were fighting these dogs for profit and for entertainment," says Lt. Joseph Nelson with the Washington Police Department.
They went in and found nine pit bulls chained outside and plenty of evidence that dog fighting had been going on. Pictures show one of the dogs that had to be sedated because it was so violent. On the pictures you can see the bite marks and cuts all over.
"When we found nine dogs chained up, viscous put bulls -- these dogs were scarred up every last one of them," says Lt. Nelson.
Another nine animals, dogs and cats were found dead, some badly decomposing on the property. They could have been the bait. Investigators believe some of the dead animals and some of the pit bulls may have been family pets that were stolen.
"We feel some of those animals that were recovered might have been family owned pets because we've had a lot of complaints here of missing dogs or stolen dogs," says Lt. Nelson. "I mean, these dogs I don't think could be anybody's pet again. These dogs are basically destroyed," he adds.
Two people have been arrested. Tavaris Ramsey and his wife, Lawanda Ramsey. Tavaris facing 14 charges including dog fighting and drug related charges. Lawanda only facing 4 drug-related charges. Two arrested now...but Lt. Nelson warns it could be more.
"If you enjoy fighting dogs or you're a dog fighter and your here in this community, if you're caught, you will be prosecuted," says Lt. Nelson.
Lt. Nelson says this investigation is still ongoing and they are hoping to make more arrests. They believe people as far as Atlanta and as close as Oglethorpe County may be involved.
Lawanda Ramsey has bonded out of the Wilkes County jail, but Tavaris Ramsey is still there on $180,000 dollar bond.
The nine pit bulls found are at the humane society in Washington. They are currently trying to get custody of those dogs.
The shelter believes the three adults will have to be euthanized but that there may be hope for some of the puppies that they believe had just begun training. They are not up for adoption.
|In a Washington dog fighting case that made headlines last spring, Tavares Ramsay will see two years in prison as he and another Washington man have been convicted of violating Georgia’s strict new dog fighting laws. |
With grisly pictures of dead and injured dogs along with testimony from witnesses, a bench trial before Toombs Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Harold A. Hinesley in Wilkes Superior Court last Wednesday saw Tavares Ramsey, 32, convicted of dog fighting and cruelty to animals in violation of Georgia’s new dog fighting law.
The most damning evidence came from Ramsey’s cell phone, which was the subject of a police search warrant. The prosecutor, Senior Assistant District Attorney William P. Doupe, showed enlargements of photos found on Ramsey’s phone including Ramsey holding a fighting dog on a leash over an apparently dead dog, along with photos of weapons, cash, and drugs.
The dog fighting case came to light last spring when neighbor complaints about the sounds of dogs fighting in the Baltimore area caused Washington police to get a search warrant for the Ramsey property on Pierce Street, former Lt. J.D. Nelson said. The raid, conducted by Washington police, Wilkes County deputies, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, parole and probation officers on March 17, 2009, found nine living dogs of various ages, along with remains of three dead dogs and evidence of dog fighting in a wooded area.
A search of the home revealed amounts of crack cocaine and marijuana, along with scales and packaging material indicating retail-level drug sales, Nelson and other officers testified.
The dogs were removed to the Washington-Wilkes Humane Shelter and most were adopted by shelters that specialize in rehabilitating former fighting dogs, shelter director Gloria Wheatley said.
On the principal charge of dog fighting, Ramsey was found guilty and sentenced to a five-year sentence with the first two in confinement. Judge Hinesley also found him guilty of cruelty to animals and sentenced him to five years, with 12 months to serve.
Ramsey was also found guilty and sentenced to eight years (with two in confinement) on a conviction for possession of crack cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. All of those sentences will run concurrently.
He was also found guilty of possession of firearms by a convicted felon, and received a sentence of five years on probation to be served consecutive to the other sentences.
A second defendant, Avery E. Mathis, 42, was convicted only on the dog fighting charge after testimony showed that he was largely an employee of Ramsey, and fed, walked, and took care of the dogs. Unable to raise bond, he had spent more than a year in jail awaiting trial. Judge Hinesley sentenced him to six years probation with credit for the 371 days spent in jail.
Both men were fined and ordered to do community service after their jail time. Judge Hinesley’s sentences prohibited both men from owning animals for the term of their probation.
Tavares Ramsey was also ordered to pay $779.01 in veterinarian’s fees.
|Source: News-Reporter - Apr 8, 2010|
Update posted on Jun 2, 2010 - 3:19PM
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