Mississippi high court affirms conviction on dogfighting

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TOMMIE QUEEN NEW MUG_452726

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed a man’s conviction on three felony counts of dogfighting.

Tommie Queen was arrested in November 2017 and found guilty in November 2019. Adams County Circuit Judge Debra Blackwell gave him a nine-year sentence — the maximum under Mississippi law at the time.

On appeal, Queen’s attorney Damon Stevenson said the trial court erred by allowing an investigator from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to testify as an expert about animal cruelty and dogfighting.

Stevenson also argued Blackwell should not have heard the case because she worked in the district attorney’s office when Queen was charged. Blackwell said she did not work on the case as a prosecutor.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it found no errors by the judge, the Natchez Democrat reported.

Queen was arrested after Adams County Sheriff’s Office discovered what appeared to be a large-scale dogfighting operation on his property. Officers said more than 50 injured and starving dogs and the bones of dozens of deceased animals were found.

Natchez veterinarian Robert Savant testified that he examined nine of the dogs and determined each had to be euthanized because of extensive injuries, including cuts on their faces, chests and front legs that appeared to be dog bites.

In 2018, Democratic state Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez filed a bill setting harsher punishment for dogfights. It became law July 1, 2018. It says people who promote, stage or bet on dogfights, own a dog with intent to enter it into a fight or own dogfighting paraphernalia may face one to five years in jail, and repeat offenders could face three to 10 years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $10,000.

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