Two sentenced for dogfighting

Published 12:12 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

NATCHEZ — One Adams County man will remain free while another receives the maximum prison sentence after they both pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges this week.

Lewis Jackson, 18, 601 Old Washington Road, pleaded guilty to the charges Tuesday, and Cornelius Baldwin, 27, 2002 Lotus Drive, pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Jackson was sentenced to three years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections by Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson, who then suspended the sentence and gave him three years probation. Baldwin was given three years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, the maximum prison-time penalty for his charge.

Email newsletter signup

Dogfighting is a felony in Mississippi, with statutory penalties of fines that can range between $1,000 and $5,000, imprisonment of one to three years, or both.

District Attorney Ronnie Harper said Jackson was given the lesser penalty because the court took into consideration his age, his lack of a prior criminal history and his willingness to cooperate with authorities.

“(Jackson) was prepared to testify today against the co-defendant,” Harper said. “He was cooperating at that point, and he was much younger than the other guy. It was our perception was that his participation wasn’t as the main perpetrator in the crime.”

The case originated in August 2011, when the Adams County Sheriff’s Office received a tip that a dogfight was being conducted at Baldwin’s Lotus Drive residence.

When deputies arrived, they found a dogfighting arena with doghouses, posts with chains and pens.

Blood was on the ground, and they found a bloody stick and first aid medications in the area. Six pit bulls — five adults and a puppy — were at the scene.

The adult dogs were all eventually euthanized for health and behavioral reasons, but ACSO Deupty Robert Moore later adopted the puppy.

When the case was taken to Adams County Justice Court, Judge Patricia Dunmore did not bind it over to the grand jury because she did not find probable cause that a crime had been committed.

After Sheriff Chuck Mayfield requested that the district attorney’s office review the case, Harper presented it to the grand jury, which indicted the defendants.

“We satisfied ourselves that we had some merit to present the case,” Harper said. “(What was done) is a violation of the law, and from the evidence, if a person committed it, my opinion is that they should be prosecuted.”

Mayfield said Wednesday he thanked the district attorney’s office for pursuing the matter because he knew the sheriff’s office had a good case from the start.

“We are really overjoyed, and we knew from the very beginning that by the law this crime had been committed and we had the evidence,” Mayfield said. “It was a matter of getting it through the system.”

Seeing such cases prosecuted are important in helping those who don’t have a voice — even animals, Mayfield said.

“Those who can’t speak up, we aren’t going to let it drop,” he said.