MARYVILLE, TN – The case against Larry Joe Wheelon for Aggravated Cruelty to Livestock under Tennessee law may be fatally flawed due to USDA Office of Inspector General Julie McMillian not providing the necessary information in her Affidavit to satisfy the probable cause requirement set out in the Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.
At particular issue is whether or not the confidential informants McMillian mentioned in her Affidavit which allegedly witnessed the sore horses at Wheelon’s barn were undercover law enforcement officers or private citizens. Law enforcement officers are held to a much higher standard than those of private citizens. It also appears that McMillian failed to state in her Affidavit used to obtain the Search Warrant that Wheelon’s training operation was a business open to the public. The reason that is important is it removes the matter of persons going into Wheelon’s barn acting under cover which requires the higher standard. McMillian herself is law enforcement and she did go into Wheelon’s barn.
In deciding the probable cause issue, the Court may only consider what was provided by McMillian in her Affidavit used to obtain the Search Warrant. If McMillian didn’t say in her Affidavit that Wheelon’s barn was a public business, then the Court cannot go beyond the “four corners” of McMillian’s Affidavit and find that it was.
At the hearing testimony was given by Walking Horse business Vet expert John Bennett, DVM, that the “bucket stance” with a horse with all four legs that would fit in a washtub did not necessarily mean that the horse was sore. Bennett said a horse could have a misaligned tail brace that could also cause a “bucket stance” and unless the Horse was required to move, you could not tell if it was sore or not. Bennett also testified about leg wraps, cellophane and duct tape on the wraps did not necessarily mean a horse was sore.
The Prosecutor called Rachel Cezar, DVM, who is USDA National Horse Protection Coordinator who rebutted Bennett’s testimony by testifying that the only use of cellophane under leg wraps was to sore the horse. Cezar also said the “bucket stance” by itself indicated that a horse was sore.
General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick will rule on the Defendant’s Motion To Suppress the evidence obtained by the Search Warrant at 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.
LARRY JOE WHEELON CASE CAST OF CHARACTERS
(left to right – Larry Joe Wheelon, Defense Attorney Robert White, Court Reporter, Prosecutor Ellen Berez, USDA National Horse Protection Coordinator Rachel Cezar, DVM, General Sessions Judge Robert Headrick
USDA OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL SPECIAL AGENT JULIE MCMILLIAN
WHEELON ATTORNEY – WALKING HORSE BUSINESS EXPERT VET JOHN BENNETT
ASST. D.A. ELLEN BEREZ – NATIONAL HORSE PROTECTION COORDINATOR RACHEL CEZAR, DVM
DEFENDANT LARRY JOE WHEELON CHECKING HIS WATCH SAYING IT’S TIME TO GO