MARYVILLE, TN – Key government witnesses, USDA Vet Dr. Bart Sutherland and USDA APHIS Evidence Collector Becky Hicks testified Monday and described what they found when over 20 horses were inspected at Larry Joe Wheelon Stables on April 18, 2013.
In direct examination, Assistant District Attorney Mark Davidson questioned Dr. Sutherland regarding his education, veterinary licenses and accreditation, and work experience in dealing with Big Lick Tennessee Walking Horses. Dr. Sutherland testified he had been a vet since 1994, and had received specialized training to detect soring using methods such as digital palpation, radiography and thermography.
Attorney Davidson tendered Dr. Sutherland to General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick as an Expert Witness. There was no objection from the attorneys representing Defendants, Gunter and Primm, and the Court allowed Dr. Sutherland to testify as an Expert.
Dr. Sutherland described Digital Palpation techniques:
He said, “I use the flat part of my thumb. You do not bend your thumb. You push hard enough to get a blanching of the skin of your thumb, but you do not bend the knuckle ““ and you do not dig into it. If you dig in, you can get a false reaction. We actually back up a little bit because we don’t even want to give the hint of doing anything wrong.”
VIDEO OF DR. SUTHERLAND INSPECTING “IN MY POCKET” (NOTE: VIDEO IS INSPECTION OF “IN MY POCKET” – NOT JOSE’S HAPPY FEET)
Dr. Sutherland testifying that “JOSE’S HAPPY FEET” owned by Ken Smith had been pressure shod by defendant farrier Blake Primm.
He said, “There is no therapeutic reason to carve out this part of the foot and apply anything and put the package back on there. The hoof sole was pared away and carved out ““ that is pressure shoeing.” He made it clear that the location where the sole was pared was crucial to cause painful pressure, and gave examples where it would be therapeutic to trim the sole elsewhere. Dr Sutherland said, “You don’t want one on fire ““ you want to have one just a little ways from being “on fire”. He said “hoof testers were used, but didn’t get a reaction.” He said that could be because the horse was hurting more somewhere else, and that the paring was not that deep that would result in a reaction.
On cross examination Mr. Primm’s attorney Brian Nichols again made the point that “JOSE’S HAPPY FEET” did not react to the caliper Hoof Testers, and Dr. Sutherland testified, “The location of where the hoof sole was carved out and the placement of epoxy was critical.” He showed parts of the hoof sole where it would not be
Preceding Dr. Sutherland’s testimony, Blount County Assistant D. A. Matt Dunn examined Becky Hicks, USDA APHIS Evidence Collector.
NOTES – TESTIMONY OF BECKY HICKS
“Hicks ““ video – “Barn Walk” Dr. Sutherland did a walk through
We found large container of Mustard oil – Various jars of all kinds of mixtures.
All kinds of chains ““ what we consider logging chains.
Bigger thicker chains – Allowed to have 6 oz chains.
All chains lined up
Medications in tackle boxes.
Some horses laying down ““ odor of chemicals ““ gasoline like. A leather horse sweat smell in normal stable. A little more chemcial than a regular horses stable should be
A couple of horses captured on video laying down”
TERRY HUGHES AND DEFENSE ATTORNEY IN COURT ON MONDAY
The Preliminary Hearing resumes today at 1:30 p.m. in Maryville, where it will be learned if a key witness, former Wheelon stable employee Terry Hughes, will be given immunity and allowed to testify or if Hughes will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self incrimination.