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Judge sticks by order that dogs must be produced

Following a two and a half hour hearing in Lamar superior court Thursday, senior Judge Wade Crumbley stood by his order that dogs seized from an alleged puppy mill here March 13-14 must be made available to the defense for independent veterinary exams. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* Special prosecutor Jessica Rock argued vehemently and at length that any new exams would be useless and irrelevant. She called two witnesses whom Judge Crumbley allowed to testify after some consideration. Local veterinarian Chanda Thompson testified five dogs were brought to her for treatment after initial assessments by an Atlanta Humane Society vet at the scene at Sweet Basil Kennels on Johnstonville Road which is owned by defendants John David and Latitia Matthews. Of those, three Labradoodle puppies died of parvo. One adult poodle had a collar embedded in its neck along with multiple parasites and matting of the fur. Another poodle had severe matting, skin issues and parasites. Dr. Thompson classified both as ranking #2 on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being anorexic and five being obese. Also called was attorney Jake Weldon who testified he grew up with David Matthews’ son. At issue was the question of whether or not he was acting as their attorney when he went to the kennel, observed the scene, took photos and walked the property on March 14. He said he had not been retained but avoided several questions due to attorney-client privilege. Judge Crumbley backed him on that. ”Had they not been family friends, I would never have gone out there,” Weldon testified. In denying the state’s motion for reconsideration of his order dated May 9, Judge Crumbley said, “I don’t understand the defense’s insistence on the exams but I understand even less the state’s objection to them. The safer course of action is to allow access as I previously ordered.” Each defendant is charged with 43 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of improper disposal of dead animals. John David Matthews faces three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals while Latitia Matthews faces two counts of that same charge. For much more on this story, see the 5.28.19 print edition of The Herald Gazette.

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