Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16940
Classification: Fighting
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), dog (pit-bull)
More cases in Claiborne County, MS
More cases in MS
Login to Watch this Case

New features are coming soon. Login with Facebook to get an early start and help us test them out!



For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.



Saturday, Nov 20, 2010

County: Claiborne

Charges: Misdemeanor, Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted

Defendants/Suspects:
» Bryan Keith Eggleston
» Heath Rigmaiden
» Kanisha Merritt
» Kenisha Buckley
» Courtney Brown
» Russell Poole
» Stephen Forcht
» Brenda Jernign
» Eric Crews
» Orlando Akins
» Robert L. Ross
» James H. Davis
» Joey Chan Training - Dismissed
» Charles Scott Rhodes
» Patrick Tyrone Moore

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

More arrests are possible today in connection with a weekend raid on a dog-fighting ring that put nearly 30 people behind bars in Claiborne County already.

"Some of the people ran, and we're still looking for them," said Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis, who led seven other officers on a bust that commenced around 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

"I'd say 50 percent of them took off, and we found some of them later. There will be more arrests.

"We still have their automobiles waiting for them to show up or produce who was driving them," Davis said.

Officers confiscated 30 vehicles from participants and spectators.

Most of the 27 people arrested have been charged with watching a dog fight and had posted a $5,000 bond if they were in-state residents and an $8,000 bond if they were out-of-state residents, Davis said.

Property owner Brian Eggleston, who was among those arrested, will face additional charges, the sheriff said. Eggleston's bond was set at $15,000.

Based on a tip, officers raided a pasture off Mississippi 547 between Port Gibson and Pattison, seizing 13 pit bulldogs and a chihuahua.

The chihuahua belongs to a spectator and was apparently not harmed, said Georgia Lynn, director of the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society, where the dogs are being housed for now.

"There were no bite wounds on the chihuahua. We're taking care of it right now."

As for the pit bulls, Lynn said, "they are not adoptable."

Dogs that have been used for fighting usually have to be euthanized, said Debra Boswell, director of the Jackson-based Mississippi Animal Rescue League.

"They're like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off."

Dog fighting is a felony offense that can carry a penalty of up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine in Mississippi.

For spectators, the penalty is up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Davis and six Sheriff's Department officers, along with a game warden, made the bust.

"We were certainly outnumbered," Davis said.

"We expected it to be big. The thing is, we tried to get assistance from other agencies, but they had no one available because it was such short notice."

People who fight dogs don't have to be caught in the act to be arrested, Boswell said.

"Some of them are caught when narcotics officers go on drug raids.

"Our dog-fight law is a pretty good law," she said.

"But this still goes on."

The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are 40,000 professional dog fighters and more than 100,000 "street dog fighters" in the United States.

Thousands of dollars are at stake in many of these fights, the organization reports.

"It's a problem across the country and certainly here in Mississippi," Boswell said.

"People cross state lines to fight their dogs. It's big money."

Dog fighting received national attention when NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 19 months in prison for heading a dog-fighting ring. He returned to freedom and the NFL in 2009.

The Humane Society will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dog fighter; its toll-free number is 1-877-TIP-HSUS.


Case Updates

Most of the 16 defendants indicted in Claiborne County after authorities raided a major dogfight last year have admitted their roles and received their punishment.

As a result, the county has collected between $45,000 and $50,000 from the fines ranging from $3,500 to $5,000. The defendants also had to each pay court costs of $408.50 and a $170 bond fee.

Most defendants pleaded guilty to being spectators on Nov. 20, the day the Claiborne County Sheriff's Department and others busted the dogfight.

One person pleaded guilty to sponsoring, promoting, staging or conducting a dogfight. One person whose case is pending a resolution won't be prosecuted, according to a court official. And another person indicted has yet to be served, Claiborne County District Attorney Alexander Martin said earlier this week.

Martin said he is satisfied with the outcome of the case.

"The public should know that not only is dogfighting illegal, it's illegal to witness a dogfight as a spectator," Martin said.

Staging a dogfight is a felony that carries a maximum three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Watching a dogfight is punishable by one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Sheriff Frank Davis said usually when law enforcement presents "a good case to the DA and people are found on the scene, they have a choice of fighting or pleading guilty. In this case, they pleaded guilty."

Initially, 27 people were arrested and 13 pit bulls were seized. The animals have been euthanized.

Also, some vehicles were seized, but later returned to their owners, Davis said. Davis said he thinks seizing vehicles helped authorities in identifying those present at the dogfight.

"There were people who had to make some hard core choices," Davis said. "They had to make the choice of whether to leave their vehicles with us or whether they were to come and turn themselves in and claim their vehicles."

Mississippi Animal Rescue League Director Debra Boswell said the state has one of the better laws when it comes to dogfighting.

Boswell said authorities don't have to catch offenders in the act of fighting dogs to charge them. She said injured animals and other signs of dog fighting can be used as evidence.

"It's extremely hard to catch one in progress," Boswell said of an organized dogfight.

In 2010, the Humane Society of the United States received nine dogfighting tips from Mississippi and two calls from law enforcement requesting information on how to recognize and investigate dogfighting, according to the organization.

The Humane Society will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons engaged in dogfighting or cockfighting. Its toll-free number is 1-877-TIP-HSUS.

Last year, the tip line received about 800 calls nationally and 75 percent of the calls led to an investigation, said Janette Reever of the Humane Society.

"It's an invaluable tool for us," Reever said. "The calls are 100 percent confidential. We don't even give law enforcement the name of the caller unless the person says it's OK."

Those pleading guilty in Claiborne County were:

Bryan K. Eggleston of Port Gibson, to sponsoring, promoting, staging or conducting a dogfight.
Circuit Judge Lamar Pickard last month gave Eggleston a three-year suspended sentenced and placed him on one year of probation. Eggleston also was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $408.50 in court costs.

Heath Rigmaiden, Kanisha Merritt, Kenisha Buckley, Courtney Brown, Russell Poole, Stephen Forcht, Brenda Jernign, Eric Crews, Orlando Akins, Robert L. Ross, James H. Davis, Charles Scott Rhodes and Patrick Tyrone Moore - for being a spectator.

Those paying a $3,500 fine each included Rigmaiden, Poole, Crews, Akins and Moore. Those paying a $5,000 fine included Forcht, Ross and James H. Davis. Rhodes was fined $4,000.

Merritt, Buckley, Brown and Jernign were allowed to enter the pretrial diversion program. The program allows a first-time offender to avoid a conviction on his or her record if he or she doesn't get into further trouble during a set period of time.

Poole, Crews, Akins, Rhodes and Moore all received a one-year suspended sentence and were placed on one-year probation.

Joey Chan Training's case was expected to be dismissed or remanded to file, a court official said.
Source: Clarion-Ledger - Feb 14, 2011
Update posted on Feb 20, 2011 - 6:48PM 
Most of the 16 people indicted in Claiborne County after a raid on a major dogfight last year have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

Many of the defendants admitted being spectators on Nov. 20 when sheriff's deputies and other law officers invaded the fight.

One person pleaded guilty to sponsoring, promoting, staging or conducting a dogfight. Charges will be dropped against one of the defendants, said District Attorney Alexander.

Martin said he was satisfied with the outcome. Staging a dogfight carries up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Watching a dogfight can result in a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Initially, 27 people were arrested and 13 pit bulls were seized. The animals have been euthanized. Also, some vehicles were seized, but later returned to their owners, Sheriff Frank Davis said. Davis said seizing vehicles helped authorities in identifying spectators..

"There were people who had to make some hard core choices," Davis said. "They had to make the choice of whether to leave their vehicles with us or whether they were to come and turn themselves in and claim their vehicles."

Mississippi Animal Rescue League Director Debra Boswell said authorities don't have to catch offenders in the act of fighting dogs to charge them. Injured animals and other signs of dog fighting can be used as evidence of a fight, she said.

"It's extremely hard to catch one in progress," Boswell said.

Of the defendants, Bryan K. Eggleston, of Port Gibson, pleaded guilty to sponsoring, promoting, staging or conduction a dogfight. He was put on a year of probation and fined $5,000. Those who pleaded guilty to being spectators were fined $3,500 to $5,000 and either put on probation or put into a pretrial diversion program allowing their record to be erased.
Source: The Picayune Item - Feb 5, 2011
Update posted on Feb 14, 2011 - 12:58PM 

References


« More cases in Claiborne County, MS

Note: Classifications and other fields should not be used to determine what specific charges the suspect is facing or was convicted of - they are for research and statistical purposes only. The case report and subsequent updates outline the specific charges. Charges referenced in the original case report may be modified throughout the course of the investigation or trial, so case updates, when available, should always be considered the most accurate reflection of charges.

For more information regarding classifications and usage of this database, please visit the database notes and disclaimer.