Cross-posted from The Daily Times
by IVA BUTLER
The case of alleging soring of Tennessee walking horses against a trainer, two stable hands and a farrier has taken another bizarre turn — court officials say the preliminary hearing court transcript is “corrupted.”
Long-term area trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, 69, Miracle Drive, Maryville, and stable hands Randall Stacy Guner, 44, Randall Stacy Gunter, 44, Ratledge Street, Louisville, and Brandon Randall Lunsford, 32, Blair Loop Road, Walland, are charged with 13 felony and five misdemeanor charges of aggravated cruelty to livestock and five charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to animals.
Farrier Blake Tanner Primm, 44, Glen Road, Louisville, also faces one felony charge of aggravated cruelty to livestock and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated cruelty to animals.
All four men and their attorneys were in court Monday for a status hearing.
Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Kenlyn Foster asked for an extension of the case to allow the court recorder to try and find someone who could retrieve the corrupted transcript.
Foster said she asked for the transcript in October and only learned of the corrupted transcript Thursday. Wheelon defense attorney Rob White said he found out on Friday.
The damaged transcript is of the preliminary hearing in which Blount County Judge Robert L. Headrick threw out the case, saying the prosecution did not prove its case.
A veterinarian for the state did not get to testify since he mistakenly sat in on 30 minutes of testimony. He flew in from Mississippi and did not know that Headrick had sequestered those who were going to testify.
The district attorney then took the case to the grand jury, which returned indictments for a trial in Blount County Circuit Court.
In the pretrial proceedings, White filed a subpoena ordering Blount County District Attorney General Ellen Berez, the prosecutor in the preliminary trial, to testify.
Kyle Hixson of the state attorney general’s office has moved to quash the subpoena.
During the preliminary trial, White hired a private court recorder to make a transcript of the trial.
He refused to share that with the prosecution, saying he had the testimony but not the other things that happened in court. White said it is not the official court transcript.
“I believe it is going to be relevant what happened in general sessions court and outside the court,” said Blount County Circuit Court Judge Tammy Harrington.
She granted Foster’s motion to continue. The next hearing will be at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 22.