Jury selected in trial of former Shelby Co. deputy accused in death of horse

Mark McAvoy mug shot courtesy of Shelby County Jail.
Mark McAvoy mug shot courtesy of Shelby County Jail.

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - An animal cruelty case involving a former Shelby County deputy and a dead horse began Monday.

Mark McAvoy claimed back in May that his arrest is Sheriff Newton Johnson retaliating over previous disagreements.

Whether or not that comes into play in the trial remains to be seen.

The jury will hear opening arguments at 1:45 p.m. Prosecutor Stephen Shires says a series of events will show McAvoy is guilty.

Defense Attorney Skeet DesChamps told the jury panel, "Sometimes we don't know why livestock dies. You get to decide if the State of Texas is full of bull."

The trial is expected to wrap up Tuesday. Cruelty to livestock is a state-jail felony, punishable by up two years in state jail.

"It's a situation where it's not like there's necessarily one affirmative act that's a crime, but rather a series of events," Shires said.

In opening arguments, Shires said evidence will show McAvoy moved two horses on a property in north Shelby County. The state wants to prove a two-year-old mare, with back and hip bones showing, died in this stall due to a lack of feed, water and care. The state must prove that's torture. The landlord, Lana Satterwhite, discovered the animal.

"Well, he was supposed to be buying it and rather than making him rent we let him go ahead and move in," Satterwhite said. "And things just deteriorated and we found the dead horse in the barn. And the horse had obviously been dead for several days."

When all this started, from the very beginning, McAvoy claimed Johnson was retaliating over previous disagreements.

And that's a point DesChamps doesn't ignore. Mcavoy got fired by Johnson. DeSchamps told the jury, "a month later they come up with this cock and bull story about a horse."

DesChamps calls the trial a waste of time.

"You're hearing a case about a dead horse that no one knows why it died," DesChamps said..

The defense attorney is arguing disgruntled landlords tried to blame McAvoy for criminal mischief at the home, but a realtor will testify the house was in good condition when McAvoy moved out.

DesChamps asked the jury to keep an open mind until all the evidence is presented.

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