IVA BUTLER, MARYVILLE – THE DAILY TIMES – COVERS LARRY JOE WHEELON ARRAIGNMENT – DECEMBER 9, 2013

LARRYJOEWHEELONARRAIGNMENT02 - Version 3
Photo by JOY KIMBROUGH | THE DAILY TIMES
Attorney Brian Nichols (from left) with Blake Tanner Primm, attorney Rob White with client Larry
Joe Wheelon, and Brandon Randall Lunsford with his attorney Tyler Weiss stand in front of
Circuit Court Judge Tammy Harrington during a plea hearing Monday.

Three trainers who worked with Larry Joe Wheelon plead not guilty in first court appearance

By Iva Butler | (ivab@thedilytimes.com)

Three men accused of soring the legs of Tennessee walking horses, including long-time Blount County trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated cruelty to livestock and conspiracy in Blount County Circuit Court Monday morning.

Wearing a jacket with East Tennessee Walking Horse Association printed on the back, Wheelon, 68, Miracle Landing Drive, Maryville, stood by his attorney, Rob White, as he entered his plea.

Also entering not-guilty pleas were stable worker Brandon Randall Lunsford, 32, Blair Loop Road, Walland, and his attorney, Tyler Weiss, and farrier Blake Tanner Primm, 44, Glenn Road, Louisville, and his attorney, Brian Nichols.

Randall Stacy Gunter. 44, Ratledge Road, Louisville, another Wheelon Stables worker, asked the court to appoint him an attorney, His case was assigned to the public defender’s office. He did not enter a plea.

Wheelon, Lunsford and Gunter face 18 counts of aggravated cruelty to livestock and conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to animals. Of those, 13 are felony charges and five are misdemeanors.

Primm faces one charge each of aggravated cruelty to livestock and conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to livestock.

The Class E felony charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison and the misdemeanors 11 months and 29 days in jail, according to Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Kenlyn Foster. If convicted of more than one charge, the sentences would be served concurrently because they occurred in the same time frame, she said.

White indicated he is ready to get on with the case, and Blount County Circuit Court Judge Tammy Harrington set a status hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 10