Local News

Man gets jail time after attending dog fight

SEBRING - A man convicted of attending a dog fight and resisting an officer without violence will spend six months in jail and then be on probation for four years, a judge ruled Monday.

Circuit Judge William Sites gave James Reed a sentence half way between what prosecutors wanted, which was one year in jail, and what the defense requested, which was no jail time.

Sites also ruled that Reed, while on probation, cannot obtain any more animals. The only exception is a dog owned by his wife.

But the case won't be the end of Reed's time in court.

Assistant State Attorney Courtney Lenhart said Reed still faces charges of dog fighting and animal cruelty after authorities found numerous pit bulls chained behind his home.

Reed was one of seven suspects arrested in connection with the dog fight. Cases involving two of the other defendants are still pending.

During a trial in December, Reed was acquitted of animal cruelty. He could have potentially received up to five years in prison on the charge of attending a dog fight, but his record was not significant enough for a judge to sentence him to prison, Lenhart said.

Reed's attorney, Valerie Wright, contended that Reed should not have received jail time, considering his record.

Reed testified that before 1994 he had been arrested several times, including for driving under the influence, but he had never sold drugs or stole items.

"I have never been convicted of a felony," he said.

He said in 1994 his wife was on drugs and it was up to him to raise their children.

"I had to wake up and take care of our kids," he said, adding that was when he stopped drinking.

But Lenhart contended that Reed's record before 1994 was more serious than how he portrayed it.

Lenhart said that while after 1994 Reed may have committed fewer of the types of crimes he was convicted of earlier, there's evidence he has been involved in dog fights for a long time.

She said there's evidence he brought a dog that would be used for fighting at the fight that led to his arrest.

"He took off running to his house when the cops showed up," Lenhart said.

In issuing his ruling, Sites said that Reed's record was not his main concern in issuing a sentence but that a jury convicted him.


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