published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Horse soring defendant locked up

A defendant in a Tennessee horse soring case has surrendered his pretrial bond and been locked up in response to a video that shows him building a block to affect a horse’s gait and being present when a plate and bolt were inserted in a horse’s foot area, his attorney said Friday.

A U.S. magistrate ordered Barney Davis, 38, of Lewisburg, Tenn., detained and set an Aug. 11 bond revocation hearing. His trial is set for Oct. 18.

Prosecutors seeking to revoke Davis’s bond contend in a statement that he violated court-ordered conditions that included staying away from horses he did not own and avoiding training horses and any soring practices.

Soring involves irritating a horse’s foreleg and hoof to make the animal walk with a certain gait that is valued at competitions. The illegal practice can involve bolts driven into horses’ hooves, attaching objects to their legs or using pain-producing chemicals.

Davis, who operates a stable, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiring to violate the federal Horse Protection Act. A conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Three other defendants in the case, Christen Altman, 25, and Paul Blackburn, 35, both of Shelbyville, and Jeffery Bradford, 33, of Lewisburg, remain free.

A superseding indictment in April also includes charges of falsifying entry forms and other related paperwork. Prosecutors contend Davis and Altman collected payments from out-of-state clients based on false representations the animals would be legally trained and then used mechanical and chemical soring practices.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole declined comment Friday about the case and Davis being placed in custody in Bradley County.

Davis’ attorney, John Norton III, of Shelbyville, said Friday that after seeing the video of his client he advised him to surrender his bond at the Thursday hearing. It was not clear where the video came from, but Norton described it as “persuasive.”

He said Davis “appeared helping form a block to the horse’s foot area” and was “present when a plate and bolt was inserted in a horse’s foot area.”

“I really feel what he was doing was certainly inconsistent with what his obligations were on bond,” Norton said.

Norton said he had not previously discussed a possible plea deal for Davis. He said he was unsure if prosecutors have discussed a plea deal any of the other defendants.

“Unfortunately in a case like this, everybody picks a corner,” Norton said.

He said there a lot of witnesses and predicted the trial could take several weeks.

An attorney for Altman, Jerry Summers, of Chattanooga, previously told U.S. Magistrate Bill Carter that about 30 horse owners each pay $400 a month to have Davis keep and train their animals.

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