MARYVILLE, TN – When the final story is written on the demise of the Animal Cruelty of the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse, a tribute chapter will be dedicated to USDA OIG Agent Julie McMillan.
Julie McMillan cred list:
- Instrumental in Tennessee law making aggravated “horse soring” a felony.
- Efforts to obtain prosecution of Jackie McConnell in Fayette County resulting in $25,000.00 fine and 1 year house arrest for misdemeanor.
- Seizure by State of Tennessee of “SORE” horses owned by members of the Floyd and Beverly Sherman family.
- Exposure of WHTA Ethics Chairman Larry Joe Wheelon leading to 18 count aggravated animal cruelty indictment of Larry Joe Wheelon and Randall Stacy Gunter.
- “Big Lick” Horse Trainers Quit Training – Knox Blackburn, Bill Bobo, Steve Dunn, David Landrum, Joel Weaver and Chris Bobo (Four Hall of Fame)
USDA OIG AGENT JULIE MCMILLAN
Thanks to Ms. McMillan’s contributions, for first time the curtains were pulled back for the World to see an in-depth view of Larry Joe Wheelon’s “Big Lick” “House Of Horse Horrors” at 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike in Maryville, Tennessee.
Amazingly, Wheelon’s “Big Lick” Barn was a mere five minute drive from Blount County Circuit Courtroom of Circuit Judge Tammy Harrington, and General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick.
It was all going on right under the noses of the Blount County Legal Establishment.
Apparently, the expose’ of the Animal Cruelty of the “Big Lick” Tennessee Walking Horse embarrassed Blount County officials starting with favorite U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to Blount County Court House located on East Lamar Alexander Parkway.
And the publicity resulting from Blount County Animal Cruelty illuminated the judiciary housed in the Blount County Court House:
General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick signed the Search Warrant on April 17, 2013, to authorize the search of Larry Joe Wheelon’s barn. According to reliable sources, when Agent McMillan appeared before Judge Headrick she told him that SPCA officials Gino and Kellie Bachman was working with her. Judge Headrick reportedly said, “They do good work”. Judge Headrick knew Geno and Kellie Bachman because his parents were the Bachmans’ neighbors.
On May 15, 2015 at yesterday’s Hearing, Agent McMillan testified as follows: “… but I am positive that I told him (Judge Headrick) I was working with him (Gino Bachman) on this case”.
Then Circuit Judge Tammy Harrington ordered a 15 minute recess that ran almost an hour.
When the Court resumed, Defense Attorney Rob White and Assistant District Attorney Matt Dunn announced a STIPULATION (where both parties agree) to the Court as follows:
“If called to testify, General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick would testify that when Agent Julie McMillan applied for a Search Warrant on April 17, 2013 that Agent McMillan never mentioned that Kelly or Gino Bachman were involved in the investigation”.
At that point, USDA OIG Agent Julie McMillan was thrown under the bus by Blount County District Attorney Mike Flynn. Assistant District Attorney Matt Dunn should have never agreed to the Stipulation, but according to reliable sources, his boss told him to do it. If judge Headrick was going to input, he should have been put under oath, and cross examined on his testimony.
Blount County General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick is NOT above the law.
That was not done, and it was not right.
Blount County District Attorney Mike Flynn should be ashamed of himself.
The Larry Joe Wheelon case has embarrassed the Blount County Judiciary at every turn.
First, when Agent McMillan approached District Attorney Mike Flynn regarding the alleged Animal Cruelty taking place at Larry Joe Wheelon stables, Mike Flynn assigned Assistant District Attorney Ellen Berez to handle the case.
According to reliable sources, Assistant District Attorney Ellen Berez was not available on or about April 17, 2013, when Agent McMillan sought her assistance at a critical time in preparing the Affidavit, Search Warrant and other documents necessary for law enforcement to enter Larry Joe Wheelon’s barn at 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike in Maryville, Tennessee.
Agent McMillan did the best she could in preparing the documents, and then she met with Judge Robert Headrick on April 17, 2013. Judge Headrick signed the Search Warrant, and on April 18, 2013, Wheelon’s barn was raided. On April 25, 2013, another 19 horses were seized and removed from Wheelon’s facility.
It defies credibility to think that on April 17, 2013, Agent Julie McMillan did not inform Blount County General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick that she was working with Geno and Kellie Bachman on the Larry Joe Wheelon case. They are clearly listed on the Arrest Warrant on April 25, 2013.
And for District Attorney Mike Flynn to “sign off” on that STIPULATION and egregious.
Julie McMillan testified under oath and was cross-examined by Rob White. Judge Headrick was not under oath and was not subject to cross-examination.
Blount County General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick is NOT above the law.
And Blount County District Attorney Mike Fynn should NEVER have allowed him to be.
In August 2013, General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick presided over a three day Preliminary Hearing which had more drama than the “Days Of Our Lives” soap opera.
On Day One, Agent McMillan was attacked by Wheelon Defense attorney Rob White, but the next morning (Day Two), Judge Headrick ruled there was “probable cause” for Wheelon’s search and subsequent arrest. He ruled that Wheelon’s barn was a business open to the public. As shown by these photos, the Barn was right by the side of the road where anyone could park and walk in.
GOOGLE MAPS PHOTOS
After Day Two of the Preliminary Hearing concluded, Assistant District Attorney Ellen Berez was going to pull the plug on the case because she questioned Agent McMillan, but then she changed her mind.
On Day Three, District Attorney Berez negligently lost track of a crucial witness, USDA Vet Dr. Bart Sutherland. Due to Berez’s error, and her not having presence of mind to overcome the error by doing voir dire examination to rehab Dr. Sutherland, the key witness was not allowed to testify.
Directly because of Ellen Berez’s failings, Judge Headrick dismissed the charges against Larry Joe Wheelon.
Following the dismissal, District Attorney Mike Flynn decided to pull the plug on prosecuting Larry Joe Wheelon, and said “the case was over”.
Public outrage ensued and Petitions were signed.
District Attorney Flynn relented, and the matter was presented to the Blount County Grand Jury in December 2013. It indicted Larry Joe Wheelon, Randall Stacy Gunter and Brandon Lunsford (now deceased) on 18 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Another bizarre turn involved D.A. Berez charging Wheelon attorney with wrongdoing, and a hearing was set before Judge Headrick on October 2, 2013.
To the shock of those present, Judge Headrick announced there would be NO hearing of any kind, and the horses would be returned by Friday or the Assistant D.A. Berez and SPCA official would go to jail for contempt of court.
Then District Attorney General Mike FLynn ordered his employee Ellen Berez to sign the Order:
Following this development, District Attorney Ellen Berez removed herself from the case.
Blount Circuit Judge Judge Tammy Harrington got the case in early 2014, then Judge David Duggan got it when Harrington was not present for arraignment, and then Judge Harrington got it back.
Things bounced back and forth all during 2014, and then in December 2014, another Preliminary Hearing was held before, who else, General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick.
Then in May 2015, more than two years after Larry Joe Wheelon was first arrested, Judge Tammy Harrington threw the case out, citing an improper search in violation of Wheelon’s 4th Amendment rights.
Nephew Eugene says it will be interesting to see how Larry Joe Wheelon is now received by the “Big Lick” establishment which is trying to “rebrand” itself, and deflect attention away from “IT’S THE SORING, STUPID” in a Campaign.
WHEELON TRAINER RANDALL GUNTER NAILED WITH SORING IN JULY 2014 – THE FAMILY WHICH SORES TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
Larry Joe Wheelon and Randall Stacy Gunter, both Defendants in Blount County, Tennessee criminal case for aggravated cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses, were suspended by Kentucky HIO on July 15, 2014, or alleged Horse Soring Violations. The HPA Violation citation “One Foot Unilateral Sore” alleged offense occurred at the East Tennessee Walking Horse Auxiliary Show in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee on July 12, 2014.
PHOTO OF SORE HORSE IN BUCKET STAND AT LARRY JOE WHEELON STABLES ON TUCKALEECHEE PIKE, MARYVILLE, TENNESSE – A FIVE MINUTE DRIVE FROM THE BLOUNT COUNTY COURT HOUSE – PHOTO BY GINO BACHMAN – BLOUNT COUNTY SPCA – MARCH 2013
Somehow something tells me that Mr. Tom Ingram doesn’t want either himself or Maryville native Lamar Alexander to have be having any photo ops with former WHTA Ethics Chairman Larry Joe Wheelon any time soon.
MR. LARRY JOE WHEELON (HORSES NOW MOVED TO FENTRESS COUNTY)
MR. TOM INGRAM, THE INGRAM GROUP – THE FIRST GROUP
COCK FIGHTER MR. B. L. COZAD, JR.
U.S. SENATOR LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN)
On behalf of all who oppose the Animal Cruelty which Senator Lamar Alexander presently champions, Nephew Eugene and Radar thank USDA OIG Agent Julie McMillan for her service and contribution.
*NOTES ON JUDY MCMILLAN TESTIMONY – DEC. 16, 2014 PRELIM. HEARING
“Establish background –Investigate April 18, 2013 Served a search warrant at Larry Wheelon Stables on Tuckaleechee Pike
Arrived early in the morning between 7 & 8
Search Warrant admitted into evidence.
Arrived on scene with Blount County Sheriff Dept. – Terry Hughes still in bed asleep – cleared the barn and made sure no one else was around. Around 24 stalls.
Two stalls converted and a little bathroom off to the side and a bed inside.
I had gone in under cover an inquired about boarding a horse on Apr 17. Talked with Terry Hughes
On April 18, the law enforcement officers Waked him up with blanket wrapped around him.
We secured area and made video of how we found the barn – always do that when we go in – Started labeling and sketching – before doing search (don’t have my notes) who with USDA, Becky Hicks Dr. Bart Sutherland and people with Horse Haven to help with handling horses – 4 people – Gino and Kelly Bachman with SPCA were there.
What were yall looking for?
We were looking for chemicals and sore horses, and devices used to sore horses. Mainly evidence of the soring – chemicals and sore horses.
Are you familiar ? I have worked cases in the past mustard oil kerosene possibly croton oil – there were several chemicals go jo stuff mixed with other chemicals.
Mustard oil applied to area just above the hoof – the soft tissue right above the coronet band – then cellophane – allow chemicals to go in to the skin quicker – then another wrap if horse has cellophane and other wraps – it is usually ???
Terry Hughes helped get horses fed and watered. We were there all day. He was helpful – helped handle the horses – once we got everything labeled – there were lots of containers – what they were used for and what they did. Hughes help id what horse was what. When we ran across different things in the barn – Hughes showed us around and id chemicals. He told us about some bolts or blocks – another device you use if you don’t use chemicals. Saw them –
Saw big can of mustard oil. Other jars had other mixtures, When you opened them, they would burn your noses. The jars would put up to get them out of sight.
A number of chemicals were hidden behind the office.
‘What about gojo – nothing was labeled. Terry was telling what had been used. Had run out of croton oil in Feb. and switched to cinnamon oil instead of croton oil. Person in Shelbyville had been getting from had gotten scared and couldn’t get any more. Took the substances, and sent them to lab to be tested.
During the search, lots of people showed up. Larry Wheelon showed up. Everyone was kept across the street. I talked with Mr. Wheelon. Bobbie Jo Koger was with him in his truck. Mr. Wheelon said he was responsible for the barn. I think he said there were 24 horses, but I am not for sure. I turned inspection over to APHIS – Dr. Bart Sutherland who is vet and Becky Hicks who is investigative tech.
Each horse was given a number, inspected which was videotaped – Wraps removed – foot is swabbed – then vet can watch movement – then vet does palpation. Most of the horses were wrapped in cellophane and leg wraps and the horses had tail sets and blankets, and the equipment was removed and the cellophane removed and each horse was swabbed. I don’t know what happened to the cellophane. There were big piles of wraps in the halllway of the barn.
Dr. Bart Sutherland would observe – and the horses were led around.
One horse was too sore to even swab him. Too sore to touch. Other than him all horses were swabbed and tested.
We were hoping to find the Coggins tests and owners paperwork. We did not find Coggins and owners paperwork.
Who was the trainer of ???
Not at that time
Learned when talked to Terry Hughes. “In My Pocket” owned by Kenny Smith – older stud and his daughter Dalia(sp) was going to show Spring. Stacy Gunter was going to train and show the horse. (I think I have it in my notes) 15.2 & Under amateur class – “In My Pocket” was big lick horse. Told difference between flat shod and big lick.
Davidson: (Big Lick) This is what we used to see at UT football game?
JM – The pads are built up . The pads are totally legal. APHIS inspects horses at shows to be sure they are not sore. The chain hits on the horses foot – the horse feels it and flips his foot to create more action – would hurt more if sored when chain hit.
Beverley Hicks swabbed the horse. Was horse found to be sore?
Jose’s Happy Feet – feet looked real bad to me Objection Sustained
Terry had told us (Hearsay) What did you do with Jose’s Happy Feet – we had reason to believe something was under the pad, we removed the pad with owners permission, and there was blue epoxy pad between the bottom of the foot and pad
Did you see the blue epoxy? Yes
Primm atty object to leading question – sustained.
The front of the foot – “the foot had been filed down”
Introduction of photo into evidence – two more – pix of JM holding piece of blue epoxy curved –
Pressure shoing is terms with substance between bottom of foot and shoe.
“Putting rock in shoe” would be good analogy.
Farrier – walking horse – very specialized – not something that any farrier can do.
It’s a lot more complicated than regular shoeing.
I drove by and saw Blake Primm’s truck there a day or two before. Did you talk to Larry Wheelon? I did. One of them called Mr. Primm. LW would have had the phone #. We called Mr. Primm and he agreed to come remove the package.
What was done with the blue epoxy after Blake Primm removed it? We put it back in – for several reasons – it’s a new method that’s used – we knew what was doing was supposed to cause pain – the vet tested with calipers and horse didn’t give a pain reaction. JM I made a judgment call, I think we should put it back in and left the horse as we found it. When we back to the barn at a later date, we checked Jose’s Happy Feet and the epoxy had been removed.
All the packages were removed after the horses were seized. Only Jose’ Happy Feet at time of executing search warrant.”