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Judge tosses charges for rooster fighting

WOODSTOCK –A judge tossed charges against a Woodstock man accused of owning roosters for fighting.

Arthur E. Johnson, 57, was charged with multiple counts of owning animals for sport fighting after police served a search warrant May 19 at 11813 Lucas Road.

They found 22 roosters, most of which had their combs removed and spurs trimmed. Authorities also found several hens.

During a bench trial Thursday, Lisa Lembke, a veterinarian with McHenry County Animal Control, testified that the birds were aggressive and, in her opinion, trained for fighting.

The roosters were euthanized.

After prosecutors presented their case, Johnson’s attorney, assistant public defender Kim Messer, asked that the case be dismissed because of problems with the indictment.

McHenry County Judge Joseph Condon granted that request.

One of the elements of the alleged crime is that it has to be part of a show or exhibition, Messer said.

“It’s not enough to fight,” she said. “It has to be for purposes to rile people up, have everybody watch it. They didn’t include that in the bill of indictment.”

A McHenry County sheriff’s detective testified that investigators searched the property, but didn’t find a fighting ring, razor blades or an obstacle course to train the birds.

Johnson said that’s because the roosters weren’t used for fighting – they were used for show.

“Show quality doesn’t mean they go in a ring in combat,” he said.

The combs and waddles are missing because it presents what the bird stands for, Johnson said.

“Just like [a Doberman] has a long tail when it’s born,” he said. “That takes away from their characteristic when that’s on there.”

Also, the property owner, Anthony Jayne, faces the same charges and others after police said they found drugs and money during the search.

Besides the birds, police said they confiscated $88,969 in cash, 1.151 grams of marijuana, 43 suspected marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia, scales, packaging material, a shotgun, a small-caliber rifle and ammunition in the raid.

Ten pit bulls that were impounded have been returned.

In an unrelated case, Johnson faces possession of marijuana charges. A trial has been scheduled for Oct. 9.

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