Dunklin County jury acquits Tennessee man of dogfighting

Friday, January 16, 2009

KENNETT, Mo. -- A Dunklin County jury acquitted a Tennessee man of dogfighting charges Thursday evening.

Going into the trial, Curtis Pickering, 29, of South Fulton, Tenn., faced felony charges of possessing a dog to be used for dogfighting and the intent to engage the dog in fights.

Pickering and two others, Jamie Sifford, 29, of Dudley, Mo., and Jessey Short, 30, of Cape Girardeau, were arrested Oct. 20, 2007, at Sifford's farm in Dudley after Stoddard County sheriff's deputies and members of the Humane Society of Missouri raided the home on County Road 481. During their search of the property, authorities discovered several items they believed were used in dogfighting.

Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Briney Welborn presented evidence collected from Sifford's property, including two treadmills, a "bait cage," a toolbox full of veterinary supplies, books and magazines relating to dogfighting, several weights and a pull harness.

Members of the Humane Society testified how the items were commonly found at dogfighting rings.

Defense attorneys said all of the evidence came from Sifford's home and property and was in no way related to Pickering. They also insisted there was no physical evidence provided that could directly connect Pickering to the charges.

Pickering said he was relieved.

"I can continue my life. We're [about] to have a baby," Pickering said. "It's a huge stress off my family."

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