Judge drops charges against three Larry Wheelon Stable workers
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
Animal cruelty cases against three employees of Larry Wheelon stables were dismissed Wednesday afternoon in the courtroom of Blount County General Sessions Judge Robert L. Headrick.
Stacy Gunner, 43, Ratledge Street, Louisville, and Brandon Lunsford, 21, Blair Loop Road, Walland, had been charged with aggravated animal cruelty.
Farrier Blake Primrose, 44, Glenn Road, Louisville, was charged with cruelty to livestock.
Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Ellen Berez said “no comment” when asked why the charges were dismissed.
Wheelon, 68, Miracle Landing Drive, Maryville, was charged with one count of cruelty to animals on April 25.
At the same time, 19 of 28 horses were seized from Larry Wheelon Stables, 2743 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville. The animals had allegedly suffered from soring, a painful practice that makes them step higher.
On Aug. 15, Headrick dismissed the charge against Wheelon on a technicality. The U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian who was to testify sat in the courtroom and heard about 30 minutes of testimony. He had flown in from Mississippi and did not know witnesses were sworn in daily and were to remain outside the courtroom during testimony.
This resulted in the case being dismissed.
Following that dismissal, Headrick ordered the horses be returned to their owners at Larry Wheelon Stables on Tuckaleechee Pike.
However, the barn owners have thrown Wheelon off the property and turned off the water and electricity to the barn. They are not allowing Wheelon, nor anyone associated with the horses, back on the property.
The date and location of the return of the horses is still apparently an issue the court must decide.