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February 7, 2008 Issue

61 warrants taken for cruelty
Lane and Walker plead to voluntary manslaughter
Practice for Spring...

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61 warrants taken for cruelty

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

None of the 60-plus horses are left in the Highway 171 pasture Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Health officials have been monitoring since October and area law enforcement said that only around half of the quarantined animals’ whereabouts can be accounted for.

While the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s investigation is still on-going, Jefferson County authorities have already issued 61 warrants for the arrest of the animals’ owner, 70-year-old Hazelene E. Trexler, and her son, 44-year-old Terry Alfred Trexler, both of Sumter, S.C.

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“She is being charged because she is the owner and he is being charged because he was the caretaker,” said Jefferson County Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Kitchens. “It was both of their responsibility to care for these animals.”

Each faces 30 charges of misdemeanor animal cruelty by starvation and Terry Trexler also faces a single charge for allowing animals to roam at large. Officer Kitchens said each count carries a potential fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison.

Witnesses listed on the warrants include Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Clark Hiebert, Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Inspector Marei Hunter, and Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Director Dr. Maria Luke.

Since first being notified that there were horses that appeared to be so malnourished that bony structures like the hips and ribs were plainly visible, the state’s equine health division has made three trips to the pasture to take the most infirm and transport them to critical care centers for recovery.

After several weeks of monitoring to see if the animals put on any weight, the state first returned on Nov. 7 and impounded 11 horses.

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin said at the time that all of the animals taken had body scores of 1.0 to 3.0, the lowest ranking on the state's 1-10 system. All of the horses impounded needed immediate care, he said.

According to Officer Kitchens, the property owner from whom the Trexlers leased the pasture, has since taken 10 horses and the state has returned and impounded an additional 15.

Officer Kitchens said the 10 taken by the property owner have since been cleared with the state for sale to the public.

“We don’t know what happened to the others,” Kitchens said. “But whoever took them broke quarantine.”

Commissioner Irvin’s office placed all of the horses at the site under quarantine until they could receive proof of their vaccinations and results of a valid Coggins test which is used to diagnose carriers of Equine Infectious Anemia.

Officer Kitchens said it appeared the horses had been completely abandoned since the beginning of January.

“This level of animal cruelty will not be tolerated and will be investigated if reported by both local and state authorities,” Kitchens said. “Code enforcement appreciates the way the state has worked with us and the seriousness with which they have taken the case.”

Officials with the Department of Agriculture said last week that the case is still under investigation and refused further comment.

However, in an earlier interview, Commissioner Irvin said that anyone who suspects horses are being mistreated should call his office of equine health.

“Whenever someone sees a horse that is thin, if you can see any of the bony structures such as the ribs or pelvic bones, then you can call our equine division at (404) 656-3713,” said the state’s Director of Equine Health Maria Luke, DVM.



Lane and Walker plead to voluntary manslaughter

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Two men initially charged with murder in the January 2006 death of Samuel Damon Tremble, 30, of Wrens pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Jefferson County Superior Court on Friday, Feb. 1, according to law enforcement officials.

The men, Donyeal Lammoris Lane, 24, and Travis Jermaine Walker, 27, both of Wrens, were sentenced to 20 years by Judge Kathy Palmer, according to Senior Assistant District Attorney Hayward Altman.

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“In this case, they were allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter based on the circumstances surrounding the case,” Altman said.

Both men were sentenced to serve 12 of those 20 years in a penitentiary and the remaining eight on probation, he said.

“Ms. Judy Ellis, mother of the victim, gave a victim statement and was very eloquent in her presentation to the court. She was extremely eloquent in explaining how the death of her son has affected her and her family,” Altman said, adding that Ellis was the only family member of the victim present in the court room at that time.

The incident that led to Tremble’s death began as what was described at the time as a “verbal altercation” between Tremble and Lane at the corner of U.S. Hwy 1 and King Street.

The cause of the argument was unknown at the time but Wrens Police Chief David Hannah said several witnesses reported seeing the two men “scuffling” over a handgun.

“It was then that the second suspect (Walker) pulled up and tried to break up the fight,” Hannah said. “It was determined that this suspect had a weapon in his vehicle.”

Moments later, several shots were fired, Hannah said, and Lane and Walker fled the scene in Walker’s vehicle.

Hannah said that he was on the scene within two minutes of the call going out and when he arrived Tremble was unresponsive.

Lane turned himself in a few minutes later. Walker was apprehended without incident shortly afterwards.

According to Mike Bennett, EMS Director for Jefferson County Rural Metro, Tremble was placed in the ambulance in unstable condition, but once loaded went into cardiac arrest and was transported to Jefferson Hospital.

EMS provided trauma treatment for multiple gunshot wounds. Bennett said his personnel counted three possible entry/exit wounds. One was to the left hand, one to the left part of the chest and one to the back, which, according to Bennett, appeared to be another entry wound.

Tremble was pronounced dead by hospital personnel around 12:30 p.m.

According to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office investigator, both Lane and Walker are believed to have fired shots, one from a revolver and the other with a semi-automatic hand gun.

Both guns were recovered, the investigator said, and both men were charged with murder and possession of a handgun during the commission of a crime.

The two men, who had been out of jail on bond, had been ordered to turn themselves in Tuesday, Feb. 5, and did so, according to a JCSO spokesman.

The spokesman said one of the men said that the night before the shooting he had been robbed by the victim, Tremble. Investigators were unable to substantiate this claim.

“He was going to get revenge or get his money back,” the spokesman said. Both men shot the victim but investigators were not able to determine the source of the fatal shot as the shots were what law enforcement calls “through and throughs,” indicating the bullets went completely through the victim.

However, a comparison between the number of times Tremble was shot and the number of times each gun was fired, investigators could show both Walker and Lane shot the victim, the spokesman said.



Practice for Spring...

Beth Downey clips stems on some flowers prior to adding them to an arrangement. She and Sylvia Summers gave a flower arranging demonstration Saturday, Jan. 26, at Louisville Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church. Summers said when deciding what flowers to use, they look at the space where they will be working and the size of the space. She said most people trust her judgment. “Which is nice,” she said. “It’s a gorgeous church.”

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