Hearing dismissed on officer facing animal cruelty charges - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Hearing dismissed on officer facing animal cruelty charges

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Giwada Williams showed WLBT the casing Monday from a bullet she says killed her beloved pooch. She claims it was fired by former Canton Animal Control Officer Alonzo Esco in front of her Canton home.

"I open the door, I'm looking where my carport inside here, here goes this dude, with a gun, like he rifle man or something," said Williams.

And she's not the only one who claims Esco shot their pet.

The former animal control officer was fired from his post when investigators found over 100 carcasses of cats and dogs in a Canton creek, allegedly dumped there by Esco.

He's facing five counts of animal cruelty and four counts of illegal dumping, all misdemeanors.

"I would have to ask him if he has any remorse whatsoever for the acts he's committed," said Gail Brown, president of the group Mississippi Fighting Animal Cruelty Together.

And while a number of animal rights activists were in Madison County Circuit Court Monday for a hearing on Esco's case, one person not in attendance was Esco himself.

"He could have been here; he could have had an attorney, he could have put up argument. But he chose not to show up," said Allen Phillips, Madison County prosecutor.

The probable cause hearing is standard procedure, to determine whether charges filed against law enforcement officers have merit. But the judge dismissed the hearing in this case because Esco was acting as an animal control officer, not a law enforcement officer. The case will now be handled by Madison County Justice Court.

"We're not purposely dragging this out. But we're doing it so due process is afforded and there's no argument later that he was railroaded by a political witch hunt or any of those kinds of things," said Phillips.

Meanwhile, animal rights activists say Esco's case highlights the importance of making animal cruelty a felony in Mississippi.

"Research shows that those who commit these heinous crimes, say they set a dog on fire, the most they would be charged with is misdemeanor. But they go on to commit other crimes such as violence against people," said Brown.

Esco was recently charged with domestic violence in an unrelated case.

Prosecutors expect Esco will go on trial for animal cruelty and illegal dumping charges in the fall. It's unclear whether Esco has an attorney.

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