Dogfighting case called weak

Investigators were `caught up' in emotion in wake of Michael Vick publicity, lawyer says

October 10, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

The attorney representing a Severna Park man accused of holding dogfights at his home said yesterday that investigators had slapped together a weak case after becoming "emotionally caught up" in the outcry that followed the Michael Vick case.

With gun charges recently dismissed against Kevin Jay Green, 44, lawyer Andrew White argued that the $750,000 bail set after the dogfighting conviction of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was too high.

Anne Arundel County District Judge William C. Mulford II refused to lower it to $50,000, noting that Green still faces serious charges.

The charges against Green include maintaining a dogfighting operation, cruelty to animals and arranging or conducting dogfights.

Police conducted surveillance of Green's secluded home for two days in September before raiding it, seizing drugs, a handgun, five pit bulls and equipment associated with training for dogfighting.

White said police never saw Green among more than a dozen men coming and going from the property, some of whom were walking pit bulls into a wooded area where police later found suspected fighting pens.

He said a District Court judge who reviewed the case during a preliminary hearing last week called it one of the "worst-investigated cases" he had ever seen.

White did not dispute the drug charges - according to court papers, police found Green in a bathroom where 35 grams of crack cocaine had been thrown into a toilet - but said authorities made little effort to investigate the other men on the property, such as taking down their license-plate numbers.

"They did three days of surveillance and never saw him once in the house, outside of the house or around the house," White said. "Of all the people seen doing things that would be indicative of dogfighting, he's not one of them."

Deputy State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling said the dogfighting took place at Green's home, and that he was present when the search warrant was executed. She said the evidence supports the charges.

Kathleen Marie Bell, 37, also was arrested during the raid and has been charged on the same counts as Green.

After receiving a tip, police went to a wooded area behind a home on Glenns Road, off Ritchie Highway not far from Severna Park High School. There, an officer said, he saw men assemble fence sections for construction of a dogfighting "pit" and saw a man walking from a wooded area carrying a small cage containing a black dog that appeared to be dead.

Officers who raided the home reported finding five pit bulls being kept in "deplorable conditions" with no water or food. Some were extremely aggressive and had injuries that "can only be consistent with dogfighting," police wrote in charging documents.

Police also found a thick rope attached to a spring, equipment thought to be used to hang dogs from trees to strengthen their jaw muscles; and treadmills, which are thought to be used for endurance training, caked with paw prints.

Green was described yesterday as a mechanic who has lived in the home for nearly 15 years, though property records indicate that he does not own it. He has no previous convictions.

Wearing green prison garb and with his hands shackled, Green nodded in the direction of friends and family members when he entered the courtroom and shrugged when the judge decided not to lower his bail.

Outside the courtroom, a woman who declined to identify herself said Green is "scared of dogs" and would never have allowed dogfighting on his property.

She said that a particularly aggressive pit bull seized from the property and shown in news reports was a calm pet.

"They've must've done something to aggravate it," she said. "Those ain't his dogs. They don't belong to him."

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