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Graves County grand jury to hear pit bull case

MAYFIELD — A Graves County grand jury will decide next week if Joanal and Amy Deberry should be prosecuted on 30 charges of cruelty to pit bulls that authorities think were used for dogfighting.

The Deberrys were arrested on the animal cruelty charges on Nov. 5 after Graves sheriff's deputies found 72 pit bulls at the couple's home on Ky. 1241 near Hickory and on House Road, about 2 miles away.

Graves Deputy Sheriff Davant Ramage said veterinarians examined the dogs and said that at least 30 had scars consistent with injuries from dogfighting or low weight indicating they were being trained for fighting.

District Judge Deborah Crooks found probable cause Wednesday to transfer the case to the grand jury that meets Thursday.

If indicted, they will be prosecuted in Graves Circuit Court on the felony charges. Each carries punishment of one to five years in prison.

Two felony drug charges against Joanal Deberry, 29, also were sent to the grand jury. No drug charges were filed against Amy Deberry, 27.

Ramage also testified that information and paraphernalia that the U.S. Humane Society said is consistent with dogfighting operations was discovered during a search of their home.

It included magazines, IVs thought to be used to give dogs vitamins before fights and to treat them after fights, and tags listing names of dogs and the number of wins.

Ramage also told Crooks that men hired to care for the dogs told him that the dogs were used in fighting.

Under questioning from attorney Todd Elmore, who represented Joanal Deberry, Ramage said he had no direct evidence that the Deberrys owned the dogs when they sustained their injuries.

However, Ramage said there are records indicating when the Deberrys acquired many of the dogs and those dates could be compared with veterinarians' estimates of when the injuries were inflicted.

Ramage also said he found no evidence that fighting had occurred on or near where the dogs were found.

Deputy Sheriff George Workman testified that Amy Deberry at first told him they were running a rescue operation for pit bulls formerly involved in fighting. However, he said she later said they were breeding dogs.

The Deberrys did not testify.