Kinship Circle: LETTER/ Vick Teammate Faces Unrelated Cruelty Charges

October 2nd, 2007 10:55 pm by Kelly Garbato

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Sep 30, 2007 11:10 PM
Subject: LETTER/ Vick Teammate Faces Unrelated Cruelty Charges

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST AS WRITTEN

Kinship Circle posted 3 letter-writing campaigns tonight:

1. 9/30/07: Vick Teammate Faces Unrelated Cruelty Charges
2. 9/30/07: Bandit Died Waiting In Officer’s Scorching Car
3. 9/30/07: Dog/Cat Fur For Sale In Canadian Stores

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9/30/07: Vick Teammate Faces Unrelated Cruelty Charges
PLUS: State’s Case Against Michael Vick
KINSHIP CIRCLE ACTION CAMPAIGN
http://www.KinshipCircle.org

SOURCE OF INFORMATION:

IDA eNews: 9/12/07 by Mat Thomas, mat [at] idausa.org

Another Atlanta Falcons Player Faces Animal Cruelty Charges
Urge prosecutor to seek maximum penalty for Jonathan Babineaux
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/09/12/18447249.php

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Danny J. Porter, Gwinnett County District Attorney
Gwinnett Co. Justice & Admin Center
75 Langley Drive * Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045
ph: 770-822-8400; fax: 770-822-8465
webmail: http://www.co.gwinnett.ga.us/

Dear District Attorney Porter,

Still reeling from Michael Vick’s dogfighting case, the global public is shocked to learn another (far less publicized) Atlanta Falcons player faces animal cruelty charges.

In February 2007, defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux allegedly smashed the head of his girlfriend Blair Anderson’s pit bull mix, Kilo, following an argument. The dog succumbed to severe head trauma. Babineaux said the “accidental” death resulted from a dog trainer’s recommendation to swing Kilo by his leash to subdue aggressive behavior.

Criminologists agree the intensity of vicious behavior — regardless of a victim’s identity — is a forerunner to more violence. Babineaux “unintentionally” slammed a dog’s head into a wall. Clearly, Kilo endured a brutal death at the hands of Babineaux. What other aggressive acts is this man capable of?

If Babineaux is convicted, please advocate the maximum five years incarceration and $15,000 in fines for felony animal cruelty charges. He ought to undergo psychological counseling and be barred from possessing or living with animals. I urge you to forego any plea bargains that reduce the crime to a misdemeanor with lenient penalties.

When the justice system excuses blatant cruelty because victims are deemed undeserving of our mercy, our society is capable of great bloodshed. We can never close our hearts to the suffering of others. Furthermore, men prosecuted for animal cruelty are five times as likely to be arrested for other violent crimes, according to Utah State University professor Frank Ascione’s extensive research.

Randall Lockwood, Ph.D. — regularly enlisted to aid cruelty investigators, law enforcers, court officials and mental health professionals — identifies perpetrators who view themselves as victims and/or project blame onto others (“I followed the trainer’s advice; It was the dog’s fault for bad behavior.”) as “repeat offenders…resistant to intervention.”

Even the FBI red flags animal abuse when profiling homicidal criminals and their potential for recurring violence.

Jonathan Babineaux poses a risk to other animals and humans. Thank you for recognizing the gravity of this crime and punishing him to the fullest degree.

Sincerely,

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Virginia’s Case Against Michael Vick
Defendants Face Additional 10 Years Behind Bars

KINSHIP CIRCLE REFERENCE:
* 8/19/07: No Deal For Sick Vick’s Dogfighting Crimes
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/letter_library/letter.asp?LetterID=1672&seriesfirst=true

From Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle: Some may remember I had the unique opportunity to speak to Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter for about 45 minutes by phone in late August. I was surprised by his candor, but one thing was abundantly clear: Mr. Poindexter intended to file state charges against Michael Vick. At the time, an indictment was not possible because federal prosecutors were withholding key witnesses and evidence Mr. Poindexter needed to build the state’s case. Now that Vick and his three co-defendants face state charges for beating/killing a dog and engaging in and promoting dogfighting, they also face another 10 years in prison.

Please read article below and THANK Mr. Poindexter for doing the right thing. He has received a lot of hate mail and threats from pro-Vick parties. Let him know you fully support the state’s case against Michael Vick, Quanis Phillips, Tony Taylor and Purnell Peace — and hope he will fight for maximum penalties under Virginia state law.

Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter
SURRY COUNTY
Post Office Box 358 * Surry, Virginia 23883
ph: 757-294-3118; fax: 757-294-3560
NO EMAIL ADDRESS

Virginia indicts Vick on dogfighting charges
SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal Constitution
http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/falcons/stories/2007/09/25/vick_0925.html?cxntnid=amn092607e

9/25/07, By STEVE WYCHE — Michael Vick’s legal troubles continued to mount Tuesday as he was indicted on new local charges in Virginia and a $2.5 million lawsuit against the Atlanta Falcons quarterback became public.

Vick, already suspended indefinitely by the NFL and awaiting sentencing after a federal plea agreement on felony charges related to dogfighting, now faces two state charges that could mean 10 additional years in prison and further jeopardize his playing career.

A grand jury in Sussex County, Va., indicted Vick and three co-defendants on one count of beating or killing a dog and one count of engaging in and promoting dogfighting. Both counts are felonies at carry a maximum sentence of five years and a $2,500 fine.

An arraignment date of Oct. 3 was set.

Neither Vick, his co-defendants nor their legal representation were present. Vick couldn’t be reached for comment but his attorney Billy Martin issued a statement. “We are disappointed these charges were filed in Surry County since it is the same conduct covered by the federal indictment for which Mr. Vick has already accepted full responsibility” and pleaded guilty.”

Martin said Vick’s legal team would examine the charges “to ensure that he is not held accountable for the same conduct twice.” The Falcons, who have distanced themselves from Vick over the past few weeks, refused comment.

Sentences in Virginia typically run consecutively, according to Richmond attorney Steve Benjamin, meaning if he were found guilty of both federal and state charges, he would serve the two sentences back-to-back.

On the county charges, Vick faces up to 10 years in prison after any federal sentence he receives. However, a judge could order the sentences be served concurrently or eliminate the local sentence based on time served, Benjamin said. There is also the possibility that Vick and his attorneys could reach a plea deal with county prosecutors on the state charges, perhaps reducing them to misdemeanors.

The grand jury Tuesday declined to indict Vick, along with Quanis Phillips, Tony Taylor and Purnell Peace, the same co-defendants in the federal case, on animal cruelty charges that stemmed from their admission that each played a role in executing pit bulls after the dogs failed to show a willingness to fight. Those counts carry a maximum of 40 years in prison.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Poindexter issued the following statement: “These are serious charges and we can assure you that this grand jury was not driven by racial prejudice, their affection or lack of affection for professional athletes, or the influence of animal rights activists and the attendant publicity. The grand jury represents the conscience of the good people of Surry County.”

The six-person grand jury, made up of four women and two men, met in Sussex County because the Surry County courthouse is being renovated. The arraignment is scheduled a day before an NFL arbitrator hears arguments in the Falcon’s pursuit of $22 million in bonus money paid to Vick.

The Falcons began proceedings to recoup money paid to Vick after he was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league’s player conduct code last month. Vick has been paid more than $50 million by the Falcons since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft. Vick made millions more in endorsement deals, all of which have been terminated since his plea agreement.

All defendants confessed that the headquarters for Bad Newz Kennels, the moniker for their dogfighting operation run between 2001 and 2007, was based on Vick’s property at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Va., about 25 miles from Vick’s hometown of Newport News.

Vick, Peace and Phillips admitted in the federal case to killing between six and eight pitbulls in April. Taylor admitted taking part in the fighting and execution of dogs between 2001 and 2004. They all face up to five years in prison but their cooperation with investigators could reduce their sentences. Taylor, Peace and Phillips are scheduled to be sentenced in November. Vick will be sentenced Dec. 10.

“There was immense pressure on the county to do something,” said John Goodwin, Deputy Manager of Animal Fighting Issues for the Humane Society of the United States. “They couldn’t just sweep this under the rug. I think at some point, charges were inevitable.”

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in constitutional law and the federal courts, said just because Vick, Phillips, Peace and Taylor confessed to the federal charges does not mean prosecution is certain locally. “What is usual here is that the local prosecutor decided to commence a state prosecution after a federal prosecution had already begun,” Benjamin said.

Staff Writers Mike Morris, D. Orlando Ledbetter and Chris Vivlamore contributed to this article.

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