(Fayette County, TN) Jackie McConnell, a prominent walking horse trainer from Collierville, entered a guilty plea Tuesday morning to 12 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
McConnell and two stable workers, who also entered guilty pleas, appeared in Fayette County Circuit Court.
The charges came after a video tape was released showing McConnell and the workers “soring” walking horses.
Prominent Collierville walking horse trainer Jackie McConnell and stable workers John Mays and Jeff Dockery came before Circuit Court Judge Weber McCraw Tuesday morning,
The charges stemmed from a 2011 hidden camera video, taken by the Humane Society.
It showed McConnell and his workers applying caustic chemicals to the ankles of walking horses in a process called “soring.”
“Soring” produces the high-stepping action walking horses are known for.
By pleading guilty Jackie McConnell faces one year of house arrest, four years supervised release, $25,000 fine and a 20-year ban on possession or ownership of horses.
As with previous court appearances, McConnell had little to say,
“I have no comment. I’m just glad it’s over.”
McConnell’s attorney, David Douglas, said his client’s guilty plea was the best option in light of the Humane Society video.
“Certainly the video did, did weigh into what would be shown to the jury and what would have come out against Mr. McConnell.”
John Mays, who also pleaded guilty and faces four years supervised release, wanted to put the matter behind him.
“I just…I ain’t gonna do it no more. It was just a mistake, that’s all I can say about it.”
Stable worker Jeff Dockery also pleaded guilty and got three years supervised released.
“Glad it’s over with.”
When asked what his plans are, Dockery replied, “I got another job now.”
None of the men will serve jail time because the crimes were misdemeanors when committed.
But the Humane Society video, coupled with aggressive federal and state prosecution, has changed that.
Mike Dunavant, Attorney General for Tennessee’s 25th Judicial District, says this is first “soring” case in his jurisdiction.
He says future cases, if they happen, will be treated differently.
“After this case, now it is a felony in Tennessee, a Class E felony, to commit the same criminal conduct that Mr. McConnell committed in 2011. And so the law has changed now.”
Jackie McConnell has 120 days to divest himself of any ownership of any horses he currently has in his barn or in his possession.