Prosecutor drops dogfighting charges against Tenn. man

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dogfighting charges against Curtis Pickering were dropped last week after Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Briney Welborn dismissed the case.

Stoddard County officers arrested Pickering, 29, of South Fulton, Tenn., along with two other men when police busted an alleged dogfighting ring near Dudley, Mo., in October.

Welborn charged Pickering with three counts of dogfighting. A Dudley man, Jamie D. Sifford, faced 19 felonies for the dogfighting, three counts of possession of controlled substances and two counts of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

Jessey Short, 30, of Cape Girardeau will be tried this summer on five counts of dogfighting. A case review is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 21.

A Stoddard County judge will hear motions in Sifford's case at 10:30 a.m. June 23.

Welborn said he dismissed the charges against Pickering because he plans to focus his energy on Sifford.

"This man is charged with crimes involving a lot more dogs," Welborn said.

Welborn said he plans to refile charges against Pickering but would not say when that would happen.

Pickering's case, moved to Cape Girardeau County on a change of venue, was set for jury trial Tuesday before Welborn dropped the charges.

Officers raiding Sifford's property in October discovered a multitude of dogfighting paraphernalia, including harnesses with 50-pound weights, first-aid supplies and a horse stall that had been converted into a fighting ring. Dried blood stained the carpet that had been laid down in the stall.

Twenty-seven dogs, mostly pit bulls and pit bull mixes, were seized in the raid and turned over to the Humane Society of Missouri.

Investigators discovered a tape in the glove compartment of Pickering's sport utility vehicle. The tape showed clips from three dogfights that occurred at his Tennessee residence.

The day after Pickering's arrest, authorities at the Stoddard County Jail heard a phone recording of him calling home and asking his mother, Judy Pickering, and his girlfriend, Ashley Donaldson, to hide dogs and evidence for him. Both were charged in October with being accessories to dogfighting.

Orvil Pickering, Curtis Pickering's father, faces one count of dogfighting because the tape found in Stoddard County showed him participating in the fights. Curtis Pickering also faces a charge of dogfighting in Tennessee.

In February, the Humane Society received permanent custody of 23 of the dogs when Sifford voluntarily surrendered his ownership. Most of them are now available for adoption, having recovered from their wounds and parasites.

335-6611, extension 245

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