Court rules horses seized in Wheelon Stables raid must be returned immediately
Iva Butler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The 19 horses confiscated in a raid at Larry Wheelon Stables on April 25 are to be returned immediately to their owners, according to a court ruling Wednesday.
Blount County General Sessions Court Judge Robert L. Headrick ordered the return of the horses seven weeks ago, but the Humane Society of the United States has not yet complied with that order.
Headrick acquitted Wheelon of one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony offense. The veterinarian that examined the horses was not allowed to testify because he came into the court and heard testimony of one witness. Headrick had banned witness from the court during testimony.
Headrick ruled there was no probable cause to take the case to Blount County Grand Jury and ordered the return of the horses.
The original order was that the horses be returned to Wheelon Stables at 2743 Old Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, but Wheelon had vacated those premises at the request of the barn owner.
The amended order demanded the return of the horses to 2062 Old Niles Ferry Road, Maryville, at a barn owned by Mack McNutt.
Blount County District Attorney General Mike Flynn can still take the case before the Blount County Grand Jury.
He said Wednesday “there is still research and investigation to be done. Our hope is to have it done and a decision made before the next grand jury, which will be Nov. 4.”