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Tennessee Horse Soring Case Paused Due to Search Warrant Issues

In a case reported by the Daily Times, defense attorney Rob White won his motion to suppress evidence gathered regarding a horse-soring case in Maryville, TN. White's clients, horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, owner of Larry Wheelon Stables in Maryville, TN, and his employee Randall Gunter, are facing charges of aggravated animal cruelty charges after the stables were raided by authorities in April of 2013.  However, due to an issue with the way evidence was obtained for the raid, the trial has reached a standstill.

White's clients, horse trainer Larry Joe Wheelon, owner of Larry Wheelon Stables in Maryville, TN, and his employee Randall Gunter, are facing charges of aggravated animal cruelty charges after the stables were raided by authorities in April of 2013. However, due to an issue with the way evidence was obtained for the raid, the trial has reached a standstill.

Wheelon and Gunter were charged with aggravated animal cruelty charges in April 2013 after evidence gathered by an agent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a member of the Blount County Society Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seemed to point to horse-soring. The practice of horse-soring is common but illegal, and is used to induce horses into the famous "Big Lick" gait to attract a higher score in horse shows. Horse-soring can include multiple forms of hoof-torture such as chemical burns, lacerations, and other injuries.

White argued that Wheelon and Gunter had both had their 4th amendment rights violated. White stated that the evidence collected by the Department of Agriculture and BCSPC was discovered while their agents were "undercover," meaning that the agents who collected the evidence did not identify themselves while they investigated without a proper search warrant.

The judge presiding over the case nullified the evidence collected, all but destroying the case. The Blount County District Attorney General's office does still retain the right to file an appeal, but at this time has not yet done so.

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