A Shelby County man who claimed his devotion to his religious beliefs required him to breed, raise and fight gamefowl had his convictions relating to animal fighting upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday.
In Edward W. Clemons v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1207-CR-327, Edward Clemons was charged with Class D felonies possession of an animal for purposes of an animal fighting contest and promoting an animal fighting contest, and Class B misdemeanor possession of animal fighting paraphernalia. The charges stem from an investigation initiated by John Goodwin, director of animal cruelty policy at the Humane Society of the United States, who read an article in a cockfighting trade journal about Clemons.
Police found numerous roosters on Clemons’ property that were dubbed – meaning their fleshy protuberances on the throat and head were missing and had shortened or removed spurs on their legs. Animals are dubbed to be used in cockfighting. Police also found a long knife used in Filipino cockfighting as an attachment to the rooster’s leg, instruction manuals on training battle cocks and medicines for the animals.
Clemons argued that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support his convictions, which resulted in an aggregate sentence of 15 months of probation. But the appellate judges found the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Clemons knowingly or intentionally purchased or possessed an animal for the purpose of an animal fighting contest and possessed the animal fighting paraphernalia – the knife – with the intent to commit an animal fighting contest violation.
There was also sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Clemons promoted an animal fighting contest.
“In sum, Clemons has invited us to reweigh the evidence but we decline to do so,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote.