Alpha Tex verdict: Dogs were not treated cruelly
RANDALL COUNTY, TX (KCBD) –
Jurors have determined that the dogs seized from the Alpha Tex kennel near Lockney were not treated cruelly. As a result, the owners will get their dogs back.
Mark, Sandra and Cory Smith couldn’t hold back their tears after the six jurors unanimously voted the dogs had not been cruelly treated. “Happy. We’re just happy,” cried Sandra. “Our lives have been ripped apart,” Mark said barely audible as he choked up.
The fate of the dogs has been unknown for the last four months. During an initial trial, a Floyd County Justice of the Peace ruled the dogs were cruelly treated, and the Humane Society of West Texas was given custody of the nearly 200 dogs. Starting Tuesday the appeal trial began in Randall County. Four days later, it took jurors less than an hour to hand down their verdict.
But the jury, after hearing some 25 hours of testimony, disagreed that there was abuse or cruelty. Judge John Board gave the jury a choice in asking if all of the dogs at AlphaTex were cruelly treated or if just some of them were cruelly treated. They decided none were.
There is also a federal case that will move forward based on constitutional law questions, and another issue involving the press being present at the seizure.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said the Smith’s attorney Paul Holloway. “I thought they’d come back quick, I thought we were ahead.” The defense made a strong case, saying the State only showed jurors a small portion of the kennels and the dogs they felt were injured or cruelly treated. Holloway says out of the 196 dogs jurors only saw six pictures of injured dogs. He says that’s only three percent of the dogs seized. Holloway told jurors “looks can be deceiving” and what the State showed was not the overall conditions of the kennels.
PD note: Depending on the state law involved, most state laws require the prosecutor in criminal cases, to turn over all of the evidence available to the defense; in California, the evidence is normally due at least 30 days prior to trial. It is not uncommon for the district attorney not to turn over all the evidence 30 days prior, and there are times that a motion to compel must be used. In addition that would give grounds to continue the trial for cause. The court is not normally that tolerant of discovery abuse in criminal cases due to the stakes at hand. In civil court, the burden is not as high, and it can take years of wrangling to iron out discovery issues.