Dog Fighting Spectator James Reed Guilty on 2 Counts, Faces New Animal Cruelty Charges

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

It took a Florida jury less than two hours to find James Reed guilty of attending a dog fight and resisting an officer. Resisting an officer is a misdemeanor with up to a one-year sentence, and attending a dog fight is a felony with a maximum sentence of five years, said Assistant State Attorney Courtney Lenhart.

It is not likely that Reed will actually get prison time because Florida uses a point system as a sentencing guideline. In order to get sent to prison, a convicted defendant must tally more than 22 points. Reed has only 4.5 at this time, with only a DUI and a few minor scrapes with the law, reports Highlands Today.

"He's not a danger to his community," under the law, she explained. "But he's a danger to the dog community. It's disgusting, what he did."

The encouraging news is that Reed faces more charges. After his arrest on December 6, 2011, authorities confiscated more than two dozen dogs at his house on High Avenue—most were Pit Bulls.

Owning, managing or promoting a dogfight, or using a bait animal is a third degree felony. Depending on the exact charges, cruelty to animals could be a felony or a misdemeanor, explains Highlands Today.

The defense asserted there was little evidence Lenhart offered to the jury in closing remarks that would indicate his client was guilty of animal cruelty, "He was there," she said. The evidence included a booking photo of Reed in dreadlocks and a white T-shirt.

Detective Brett Hinkle testified that a man with long hair and a white T-shirt was holding a dark dog by its collar or chain, so high in the air its feet did not touch the ground.

Hinkle, then a deputy, said he arrived after the 15-20 minute dog fight had ended, but Reed had so much blood on his black shoes and white socks that they were taken for evidence.

"There was a lot of unnecessary suffering," Lenhart said in attempting to persuade the jury on the animal cruelty charge.

During deliberations, jurors came back to the judge with a question about the charge: Is attending a dog fight evidence of animal cruelty?

Two months later, in another report, Officer Hinkle pointed out Reed as one of the two who were causing the dogs to fight. After dismissing the jury, the judge ordered Reed under house arrest until the sentencing date, Highlands Today reports.

Judge William Sites said he would consider 10 counts of cruelty to animals and 26 counts of selling or possessing animals to fight or bait when Reed is sentenced on Feb. 3, so Reed could be tried a second time.

Source: Highlands Today