LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After deliberating almost all afternoon Wednesday, an Angelina County jury found a Huntington man guilty of two felony charges for being part of a cockfighting operation.
Judge Bob Inselmann with 217th Judicial District Court will decide the sentence in the case.
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 two state-jail felonies - engaging in organized criminal activity and participating in earnings of a cockfight.
When Steve Perry, the president of the Texas Gamefowl Breeds Association took the stand Wednesday morning, the defense asked him to describe how and why owners trim their roosters' spurs. Perry explained that trimming a rooster's spurs is an example of how to properly care for the bird.
"When you see a roosters with spurs trimmed is not an example of cockfighting. It actually shows that the owner knows how to handle roosters," Perry said.
However, when the prosecutor asked if trimmed spurs on a rooster are also an indication of cockfighting, Perry said yes.
The prosecution later got into a dispute over his credibility because the card he presented to the court says his title is a national field investigator. However he said that's another one of his titles. The prosecution proceeded to pull up his UHDL website that had articles about cases in Angelina County, in which Perry sourced a resident as his source.
Then the state asked Perry about his strong belief that cockfighting should be legal.
"God made roosters, and they naturally fight each other," Perry said.
Later, Perry admitted that he and Jones participated in cockfighting before it became illegal.
During his closing arguments, Al Charanza, Jones' defense attorney, explained to the jury that there was no money found when officers made their arrest.
Charanza told the jury that the money Jones had in his account was a part of family savings, and that Jones recently filed for bankruptcy.
He further explained the money situations of the other people who were arrested, saying none of the other people arrested had large amounts of money to have been involved in gambling.
The defense told the jury that out of the 341 birds that were collected, only two died which is less than the amount of birds that die a day when someone is raising them.
"Don't turn a family hobby into a crime when you're not doing anything wrong," Charanza said.
The prosecution however showed all of the evidence that was obtained by the police search and argued that the evidence found proves that cockfighting was being done.
Sandra Martin, the prosecutor on the case, explained how the witnesses helped prove that cockfighting was happening back in April.
The jury began deliberating after lunch around noon.