Judge Tosses Evidence in Wheelon Soring Case

The judge ruled that Larry Wheelon’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated due to faulty search warrants.
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A Blount County, Tennessee, judge has thrown out evidence in the case of Tennessee Waslkng Horse trainer Larry Wheelon, who was accused of soring horses in his care.

In 2013, Wheelon and three others pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges for allegedly soring horses at Wheelon’s Maryville, Tennessee, training barn. That April, acting on a warrant, USDA investigators and personnel from the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Blount County Sheriff’s Department examined the barn and the horses residing there. Law enforcement and animal welfare authorities later determined that all of the examined animals were allegedly sore, and the horses were moved to an undisclosed location for rehabilitative treatment. Authorities subsequently arrested Wheelon and charged him with felony animal cruelty.

The felony charges against Wheelon were dropped after Blount County General Sessions Court Judge Robert L. Headrick ruled that USDA veterinary medical officer Bart Sutherland, DVM—who tested and palpated the horses at the time of seizure—accidentally heard testimony while sitting in the courtroom for 30 minutes during the proceedings.

Subsequently, in December 2013, a Blount County Grand Jury indicted Wheelon on 17 aggravated animal cruelty counts

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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