NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man has been convicted of felony dogfighting charges, two years after law enforcement officers found a dogfighting operation on his property in Adams County.
A jury on Thursday found Tommie Queen guilty of three of the nine counts he faced. Circuit Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced him to nine years in prison — the maximum of three years for each of the charges on which he was convicted, the Natchez Democrat reported. Circuit Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced him to nine years in prison — the maximum of three years for each of the charges on which he was convicted.
Adams County deputies said they found more than 50 injured and starving dogs and the bones of dozens of deceased animals at Queen's property in November 2017.
During the trial, a veterinarian, Dr. Robert Savant, testified that he had to euthanize nine dogs because they were so badly injured. He said he saw multiple old and fresh lacerations on the dogs' faces, chests and front legs that appeared to be dog bites. While examining photographs kept as evidence, Savant said all the dogs resembled pit bulls.
Savant said one dog had an eye infection, another had a fractured jaw that emitted a putrid smell and a third dog had a swollen gash in its front leg.
Kyle Held, an investigator for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the animals' injuries were consistent with those found after dogfights and were mostly on the front of their bodies.
Held also said he observed the dogs tethered on heavy chains inside dirt circles in the grass, which indicated the dogs were positioned just far enough apart that they could face each other but not touch.
Defense attorney Damon Stevenson said no evidence that indicated Queen had organized or planned to conduct a dogfight.
"It is extremely important that none of these witnesses have ever witnessed a dogfight," Stevenson said.
District Attorney Ronnie Harper said prosecutors produced enough evidence to convict Queen.
"It's not just about dogfighting," Harper said. "It's anyone who owns a dog with the intent to enter it or to participate in a fight, or anyone who trains a dog for the purpose of participating in a fight."