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Motions seek dismissal of charges, suppression of evidence in case of local puppy mill operation

Attorney Johnnie Caldwell filed multiple motions last week in defense of alleged puppy mill operator Latitia Adelle Matthews. Matthews, along with her husband John David Matthews, was arrested March 13, 2019 after a raid at their Sweet Basil Kennels on Johnstonville Road. Each faces six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, 23 counts cruelty to animals and one count of unlawful disposal of a dead animal resulting from the raid. They were arrested again June 5, 2019 on charges of income tax evasion. Late on Feb. 25, Caldwell filed a motion to suppress evidence from the raid, arguing deputies and others arriving at the property had no warrants and Mrs. Matthews asked them to leave. He also filed a motion to quash the charges against Matthews, arguing multiple errors in the listing of dogs by the prosecution and their alleged injuries. He cites the misidentification of dogs and multiple injuries attributed wrongly to the same dog. The list was provided under court order by Jessica Rock who, at the time of the raid, was a staff attorney for the Atlanta Humane Society. She was subsequently chosen as special prosecutor for the puppy mill case and is now an assistant district attorney in the Towaliga circuit which includes Lamar County. The motion to quash also claims Katelyn Raybon, then a member of the Towaliga circuit district attorney’s office staff, acquired three dogs, keeping one and providing others to Lamar deputies Chris Webster and Shannon Williamson. Those dogs and the names of their new owners were never listed by the prosecution, Caldwell claims. The defense goes on to claim the deputies possibly violated their oaths of office in accepting the dogs and both the DA’s office and the LCSO acted in bad faith. Sheriff Brad White was quick to defend his deputies. ‘The humane society sent those dogs to the pound. Ms. Raybon went and got them. We have animal-loving deputies and two of them adopted dogs to save them from possible euthanization,’ the sheriff said. In a motion to dismiss all charges against Latitia Matthews, Caldwell argues Rock cannot prosecute the case in that she participated in it earlier as a representative of the Atlanta Humane Society. Noting he was limited in what he could say publicly, district attorney Jonathan Adams responded, ‘We have received copies of the motions filed by the defense attorney and look forward to arguing the merits in court. We are proud of local law enforcement’s efforts to ensure the safety of animals in our community and will continue to work hand-in-hand with them.’ Katelyn Raybon, cited prominently in the motions, now works in Caldwell’s law firm, sheriff White confirmed.

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