Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18665
Classification: Fighting
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Barret Martin
Defense(s): Zachary Jex, Tony Heidelberg
Judge(s): Patricia Dunmore


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Monday, Sep 26, 2011

County: Adams

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 3 files available

Alleged:
» Cornelius Dominque Baldwin
» Lewis J. Jackson

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Authorities responding to an anonymous tip discovered five emaciated, wounded fighting dogs in the LaGrange Subdivision Monday night.

One man has been charged and deputies are searching for another.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said Cornelius Dominque Baldwin, 26, 2002 Lotus Drive, was charged Tuesday after deputies found enough evidence at the scene to link Baldwin to the fight.

He said a warrant is out for the arrest of Lewis Jackson, who resides at Holiday Apartments.

Mayfield said Baldwin is a convicted sex offender who was convicted in Georgia after a 2002 arrest for assault with the intent to rape.

Mayfield said the dogfight was completed when deputies arrived on the scene to find six pit bulls and dog-fighting paraphernalia, including a bloody break stick that is used to pry the dogs apart during the fight and medicine used to treat wounds.

Mayfield said representatives from the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society came out to the scene and took the five adult dogs and one puppy into their custody. He said empty chains and other evidence indicate there was at least one more dog at the fight, for which they have not accounted.

Barbara Platte, the humane society president, said the dogs had fresh puncture wounds and gashes when she, Nan Garrison and Kathy Fitch arrived to pick up the dogs. She said there was also visible scarring indicating the dogs had been previously been fought.

Platte said one of the dogs was visibly afraid, and one was still acting aggressive toward the other animals. She said none of the dogs acted aggressive toward people. She also said the puppy had not been part of the fighting.

Platte said the dogs cannot be placed up for adoption, and the Mississippi dog fighting statute requires them to be euthanized. She said it is ultimately up to the judge what happens to the dogs. She said the humane society is looking into the possibility of dogs that are victims of dog fighting being rehabilitated.

The dogs are now being treated and cared for at Natchez Veterinary Clinic.

Kim King, a veterinary technician at the clinic, said three of the dogs are under medical care and had fresh wounds and open, infected wounds when they were brought in.

She said two of the dogs' faces were particularly bad. She said the dogs have worms, rickets, fleas, skin problems and are emaciated. She said the dogs are being treated with antibiotics the humane society purchased.

King said the dogs have to be separated because they are animal-aggressive. She said they are very loving toward people.

"The little puppy, we've named her Lily," King said. "I just pick her up and tote her around the office, she is so sweet."

King said the puppy might escape euthanization because it has not been exposed to fighting. She said of the four or five dogs in the last group of dog fighting pit bulls the clinic housed, two escaped euthanization. She said those dogs were pit bull mixes.

King said she has four pit bulls of her own at home.

"I've had them for 20 years," she said. "I've raised them around my children. They can be the most loyal and loving family dog, if there's a responsible owner."

Mayfield said his office has been investigating dog fighting in the LaGrange Subdivision area for several months. He said the investigation is ongoing. He said there have been 10-12 arrests for animal cruelty this year alone, some of which were related to dog fighting.

"It's terrible the suffering those animals go through," Mayfield said. "Anyone who participates in that kind of activity has neither heart nor soul, in my opinion."

Mayfield said illegal gambling and illegal drug use are usually associated with dog fighting. He said he wanted to thank the person who called in the anonymous tip.

"It really shows someone is interested in cleaning their community up," he said.

Baldwin is facing a $5,000 fine and one year in jail.

"He'll probably just get a slap on the wrist," King said.

"And these dogs are paying for his sins."


Case Updates

Adams County sheriff's deputies say two men who got earlier charges dismissed have been indicted and are jailed without bond on dog-fighting charges.

The sheriff's office says 26-year-old Cornelius Dominique Baldwin and 19-year-old Lewis Jackson were arrested Saturday. Their initial court appearance is scheduled April 9.

The two were first arrested Sept. 26, after a tip led deputies to a suspected dogfighting compound in the Natchez area. Deputies confiscated five adult pit bulls and one puppy, three of which had fresh wounds on their legs and heads.

Justice Court Judge Patricia Dunmore dismissed those charges Dec. 13 for lack of evidence. Natchez-Adams County Humane Society member Nan Garrison said at the time that she was not notified of the hearing and would have shown photographs and the veterinarian bill.
Source: hattiesburgamerican.com - Apr 1, 2012
Update posted on Apr 1, 2012 - 11:31PM 
Felony dog fighting charges against the two men suspected in a dog-fighting incident at LaGrange Subdivision in October have been dismissed.

Adams County Justice Court Judge Patricia Dunmore ruled at a Tuesday preliminary hearing there was no probable cause that dog fighting occurred the night of Sept. 26 when Adams County Sheriff's deputies responded to an anonymous tip about dog fighting.

Dunmore also ruled there was not sufficient evidence to indicate the suspects, Cornelius Dominique Baldwin, 26, 2002 Lotus Drive, and Lewis Jackson, 18, 601 Old Washington Road, could "more than likely" have committed the crime.

Court-appointed public defender Zachary Jex represented Baldwin, and Tony Heidelberg represented Jackson.

A justice court preliminary hearing requires the prosecution to prove that a crime was committed and there is probable cause the defendants "more than likely" could have committed the crime.

Adams County prosecutor Barret Martin said the case's lead investigator, Delayne Bush, and the first deputy on the scene, Benjie Sanders, testified about the dogs found chained at the scene, blood on leaves on the ground and the dog's injuries.

The testimonies of the deputies, Dunmore said, failed to establish that dog fighting happened at the scene because there were no witnesses on the scene and no clear connection to the suspects and the dogs. Dunmore said Bush's testimony about the injuries of the dogs was a lay opinion, not an expert opinion.

Dunmore said Jackson, who had previously confessed ownership to the dogs, said at the hearing the dogs were hunting dogs.

Dunmore said no physical evidence was presented at the hearing.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said he did not know about the hearing until after his deputies reported to him that the charges had been dismissed.

Mayfield said his deputies took photographs of the apparent scene of the dog fight, as well as of injuries to the five adult pit bulls taken from the scene. Deputies also found dog-fighting paraphernalia at the scene including a bloody break stick used to pry the dogs apart during a fight and medicine used to treat wounds.

Bush said he believed he told Martin there were photographs included in the case's file, but Martin said he was not aware of any of the photographs.

"We put all the proof out there that the sheriff provided me, and that's all we had," Martin said.

Nan Garrison, one of three Natchez-Adams County Humane Society members that picked up the dogs from the dog-fighting scene, said she was not notified of the hearing and was "livid" that she was not given the opportunity to present photographs and the veterinarian bill for the dogs at the hearing.

"It literally makes me sick for these animals, and it literally makes me sick for this community," she said.

Martin said he only subpoenaed the deputies because it is a sheriff's office investigation, and no one on the scene had witnessed an actual crime. He said he believed the deputies' description of the scene provided vivid detail of what happened that night, but witnesses were essential to the case.

"Basically what it comes down to is that no one has come forward and said that they saw the dog fighting," he said.

Garrison said one of the dogs taken from the scene subsequently died after kidney and liver failure because of a systemic infection caused by another dog's tooth that was embedded in its gum.

The other dogs remain housed at Natchez Veterinary Clinic, and the humane society has an unpaid $3,000 veterinary bill for the dogs' boarding and treatment. Mayfield said Jackson surrendered ownership of the dogs, and he assumes they are wards of the state in the custody of the humane society.

The justice court ruling, Mayfield said, is not a finding of innocence or guilt, and he is not giving up on the case.

"This is a brutal crime," he said. "And I feel the animals and the citizens have been cheated."

The case can still be presented to the grand jury for review, and District Attorney Ronnie Harper said he met with the sheriff and is reviewing any action, if any, he can take in the case.
Source: natchezdemocrat.com - Dec 16, 2011
Update posted on Apr 1, 2012 - 11:27PM 

References


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