Cockfighting trail enters 2nd day of testimony

Cockfighting trail enters 2nd day of testimony
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The trial of a Huntington man accused of participating in a cockfighting operation entered the second day of testimony on Tuesday.

Burl Jones was one of 17 people arrested last April after authorities said they seized cockfighting paraphernalia and more than 300 birds at a Huntington property. Jones is charged with state-jail felonies engage in organized criminal activity and participating in earnings of a cockfight.

Jurors heard testimony from former Angelina County detective Paul Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff said his team presented information they collected to Art Munoz with the Dallas County District Attorney's office. Bickerstaff said they involved Munoz because of his extensive knowledge in cockfighting. Bickerstaff said it was communicated to him by Munoz that he had a strong belief that cockfighting was going on.

The state then showed the jury bodycam video that shows weapons, drug paraphernalia and signs of cockfighting were found in a large amount of the vehicles parked on the property. Bickerstaff said he helped with containment of the animals and at times it was hard.

"They wanted to fight with us," Bickerstaff said.

Bickerstaff told defense attorney Al Charanza that they did not find any invitations or entry fees at the scene.

SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator and animal control officer with Dallas County District Attorney's Office Art Munoz testified that he walked the scene after the bust and said it looked to him like there had been cockfighting on the property.

"They were knives, gaffs, syringes, just a large amount of fighting paraphernalia," Munoz said. "There's overwhelming evidence that these are not show birds."

Robert Prince, a forensic scientist, said he tested liquid in vials found on the property. He said they tested positive for controlled substances, including one for ketamine.

Prince explained ketamine is often used on animals in a veterinarian's office and is not available over-the-counter.

Prince confirmed for defense attorney Al Charanza the drugs were expired.

A now 17-year-old man took the stand for the defense. He said he and Jones are family friends and have raised game chickens for a long time.

When Sandra Martin asked if he remembers when he was detained, he replied, "I remember it every night before I go to sleep."

He said he is on probation now and will not have anything on his record.

"Pete Maskunas told me if I showed up to his office with a lawyer, he was going to ruin my life and I would never step foot on a baseball field again," he said.

He told Martin he thought he was going to a bird showing, not a cockfight.

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