WZTV FOX 17 - Top Stories
Two Bedford County deputies uncovered a large cock fight at a barn on Coffee Road just after midnight December 2nd.
Deputies said more than one hundred spectators were at that fight and yet, only one person, the owner of the property was been charged.
"It's simply the torture of an animal for money and amusement," said Leighann McCollum, state director of the Humane Society of the United States. "It's just not acceptable."
McCollum says Tennessee is one of only 10 states that punishes cockfighting as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Even within the Tennessee code itself, cockfighting is seen as less of a crime.
It clearly reads that animal fighting is a Class E felony “except for any offense involving a cock,” which is a Class A misdemeanor.
The penalty for watching a cock fight is a $50 fine. McCollum says, that's not enough to scare people away from the fights, especially if they stand to win hundreds of dollars betting on which rooster lives, and which one dies.
"We need some real laws with teeth that can actively discourage this kind of behavior," McCollum said.
Some lawmakers have tried to strengthen those laws. The latest effort died in subcommittee after running into opponents like Sen. Frank Niceley, (R- District 8).
"These boys out here in the country have been fighting roosters all their life and doing the same thing Abraham Lincoln did on the White House lawn," Niceley said. "It's not a bad enough crime to be a felony."
Niceley says making cock fighting a felony would put a strain on already overcrowded prisons.
"If we start locking up these country boys that are doing this, put away their daddy and their granddaddy, who do you want to turn out, child molesters, rapists, drug dealers?" Niceley asked.
Bedford County Chief Deputy David Williams Jr. said legislation aside, the group behind the cock fight his deputies busted December 2nd will probably just move somewhere else.
"Last year it was Marshall county [that] said they were having one in their area," Williams said. "Of course I'm sure this was the same group of individuals. They just move from one county to the other."
McCollum said cock fights also draw fighters and spectators from across the southeast that come to Tennessee to get around potential felony charges in their own states.
The only person charged in the Bedford County bust was the owner of the property Charlie Siebers, 61. Siebers is scheduled to appear in court January 9th.
Tuesday, December 11 2012, 09:57 PM CST
Houston brother will be his own attorney in court
June 18, 2013 13:02 GMT
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A Roane County man will face federal gun violation charges next month without an attorney.
The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/17VlXpM ) reported Rocky Joe Houston will represent himself on a charge of possession of a gun by a felon.
The charge came after Houston earlier represented himself in state court on charges stemming from a police chase. He was convicted of evading arrest and reckless endangerment.
Houston and his brother, Leon Houston, were tried, but not convicted, in the 2006 shooting deaths of a Roane County deputy and his ride-along companion.
In federal court, Rocky Joe Houston is claiming the officer who charged him with the felony had no legal authority.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com
Uncertainty over US stimulus drags shares lower
TOKYO (AP) -- Jitters over a possible change in U.S. stimulus efforts by the Federal Reserve helped pull share prices mostly lower in Asian trading today.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
Eds: With BC-US--Dow Record. Adds photos.
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: PRESIDENT OBAMA DEFENDS NSA SPY PROGRAMS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Until they were revealed earlier this month, few people knew about the National Security Agency's spying programs.
HOUSE OF CARDS
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The Maryland State House is getting a promotion -- to the U.S.