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Men face fines, community service after video shows them abusing injured doe
By RUSSELL TURNER
Three Greene County men will avoid jail time, but pay fines and serve 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges stemming from their treatment of a helpless Whitetail deer.
Anthony Randall Lee Jr., 27, of 26 Murdock Smith Road, Richton; Kyle Wayne Earwood, 19, of 1549 Hwy. 15 N., Richton; and Micah Walley, 22, of 243 Manning Hill Road, each pled guilty Tuesday morning in Greene County Justice Court to one count each of cruelty to animals and transporting an animal in a cruel way. The charges were levied after a video emerged of the three brutalizing an injured doe deer after it was struck with the vehicle they were traveling in. The incident reportedly occurred in early December.
County Prosecutor Lee Turner called the incident an act of horseplay that was “downright stupid and disturbing.” During statements in open court, Turner said the three men accidently hit the deer with the vehicle, but instead of putting it out of its misery, proceeded to “kick, drag and what I call mutilate it while it was still alive.”
Turner added that the most disturbing thing to him was that the men thought it appropriate to video the whole ordeal and share it on social media.
“They need to pay the stupid tax today,” Turner told Greene County Justice Court Judge Joe Beard, who presided over the case.
The video of the men’s actions was not played in court and the Herald has not been able to obtain a copy of it or view it. However, three law enforcement officials who have viewed the footage each described the images as sickening.
Judge Beard accepted Turner’s recommendation in doling out punishment. Each man was sentenced to six months in county jail and $500 fines for each charge and ordered to pay fines, court costs and special assessments. However, the jail sentences were suspended and no time will be served if the three pay the fines and fees and complete 50 hours of community service, including 25 at the animal shelter in Lucedale. Judge Beard also agreed to non-adjudicate the animal cruelty charge, meaning once all conditions of the sentencing are met, the charge can be dismissed and removed from their records.
Walley and Lee were also charged and pled guilty to hunting without a license in the case.
Lee and Earwood, along with another man, were also recently charged with malicious mischief in connection with damage done to hay fields near Sand Hill. The trio, which also included Caleb Blakely Feduccia, 24, of 411 Camp 8 Road, was charged after the sheriff’s office offered a reward for information leading to the arrests of the ‘joyriders’ causing the damage.
Earwood was charged with two counts of malicious mischief in that case, while Lee faced three counts. On Tuesday, the two pled guilty to one count each, in a plea agreement that included restitution to the landowner, fines, fees and six months of jail time (suspended). Feduccia is not set for his court date until later this month.
In all, Lee will pay restitution and fines in the amount of $3,377.25, while Earwood will pay $2,741.25. Walley’s fines and fees associated with the animal cruelty case totaled $2,338.50.