Friday, November 21, 2008

Avra Valley residents acquitted of dog fighting charges

Posted: Nov 20, 2008 06:28 PM CST

Updated: Nov 20, 2008 09:01 PM CST

Avra Valley residents both acquitted of dog fighting charges

By Jim Becker

One email correspondence between Mahlon Patrick and a man overseas was all prosecutors could hope for in their case against Patrick and Emily Dennis.

It was not enough.

In the email, read by Prosecutor Lewis Brandes in Pima County Superior Court, a man told Patrick he wanted to buy a pair of adult Pit Bull Terriers, male and female, to fight in a ring.

Patrick responded he couldn't sell dogs for fighting, and in a subsequent request, when the man overseas asked to come to Patrick's kennel to look at dogs for breeding, the request was granted.

Prosecutors say the emails show Patrick was trying to cover up any paper trail that would have linked him and Dennis to dog fighting.

But Judge John Leonardo said supposition is not evidence, and ended up acquitting Patrick and Dennis of two counts each of dog fighting, felony charges.

During closing arguments, defense attorneys pointed out veterinarians, called as witnesses by both sides, testified they could not conclude injuries on the dogs feet and ankles were caused by fighting.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department, operating on a tip from Chicago, raided the kennel February 19 and confiscated 150 dogs, mostly Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes.

A dozen puppies have been adopted out, but the rest of the animals were destroyed, citing inability to rehabilitate animals raised for fighting.

Defense attorneys say Patrick and Dennis never denied breeding and selling the dogs, and while Patrick had been involved with dog fighting in the past, he discontinued the practice once laws were passed against it.

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