MARYVILLE, TN – After hearing testimony yesterday from USDA OIG Agent Julie McMillan, expert witness USDA Vet Dr. Bart Sutherland and USDA APHIS Evidence Collector Becky Hicks, General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick ruled today that probable cause exists to believe that Randall Stacy Gunter committed the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals. The Court that no probable cause was established to prosecute farrier Blake Primm for a class A misdemeanor cruelty to animals relating to Primm’s shoeing a Tennessee Walking Horse “In The Pocket”.
Regarding the charges against Mr. Primm, the flaw in the prosecution’s case was the Tennessee Walking Horse, “In The Pocket”, did not show pain when tested with a Hoof Tester (calipers used to put pressure on the hoof), and that the “blue epoxy”, which was found when the “package” was removed by Mr. Primm, was put back in place and the package reattached to the horse’s hoof at the direction of USDA OIG Agent Julie McMillan.
Prior to the Judge Headrick’s ruling, there was drama regarding former Larry Joe Wheelon stable hand Terry Hughes taking the witness stand to testify. The Judge decided that the State could ask Mr. Hughes questions, and that Mr. Hughes attorney Marcos Garza could invoke Mr. Hughes 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination after each question posed by Assistant District Attorney Matt Dunn.
TERRY HUGHES, FORMER WHEELON STABLE HAND – PLEADS 5TH 17 TIMES
QUESTIONS ASKED TERRY HUGHES BY ASST. DISTRICT ATTY MATT DUNN
All were objected to by Mr. Hughes attorney Marcos Garza who invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination on behalf of his client to Questions 3 – 19.
- Would you please state your name, sir? Answer: Terry Hughes
- Were you employed with Larry Wheelon Stables in 2013? Answer: Yes
- What were your duties there? Answer: I was a groom.
- Mr. Hughes, other employees of Mr. Wheelon Stables were Stacy Gunter, correct?
- And Larry Wheelon Stables did hire Blake Primm to conduct its farrier work?
- How long were you employed as a stable hand there, Mr. Hughes?
- Mr. Hughes, did you observe numerous chemicals located within the Larry Wheelon Stables?
- Did you observe chains, petroleum products and other items consistent with horse soring at this stables?
- Did you observe the Defendant Stacy Gunter apply these chemicals to the pasterns of horses located at the stables?
- Did you observe Defendant Mr. Primm engage in a practice called pressure shoeing at horses at Larry Wheelon Stables?
- Were you instructed to block the horses located at Larry Wheelon Stables?
- Did you attend any meetings involving various trainers where different types of caustic substances and applications were discussed?
- Did you observe Mr. Gunter apply these chemicals specifically to a horse known as “In My Pocket”?
- Did you observe Mr. Primm engage in the practice of pressure shoeing to the horse known as “Jose’s Happy Feet”?
- Did you give statements to agents and other individuals at the scene regarding the involvement of the individuals, Mr. Gunter and Mr. Primm regarding the practice of horse soring?
- Did you describe the chemicals in great details there at the stables and their application and uses?
- Have you given any statement subsequent to this time to other individuals regarding your involvement in this matter?
- Have you reviewed that video in preparation for today?
- Where are you currently employed, Mr Hughes?
The respective Attorneys then made their final arguments before Judge Headick, and Judge Headrick asked the Defendants to stand.
BLOUNT COUNTY GEN. SESSIONS JUDGE ROBERT HEADRICK RULED:
- “I’ll start with you Mr. Primm. The Court does not find the probable cause exists that your matter should be bound for the Grand Jury for further consideration. This matter is dismissed and costs should be attached to the State.”
- “Mr. Gunter, it is the Court’s determination at this stage of litigation as to whether there is enough probable cause that your case should be bound to the Grand Jury for further consideration. All be it tenuous proof, the Court does find that your case shall go to the Grand Jury for further consideration.”
ONE BOUND OVER TO THE GRAND JURY
ONE FREE TO GO
And so it goes.