Roy Exum: Jackie McConnell Back In Court

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Jackie McConnell, the most notorious abuser of Tennessee Walking Horses that the world has ever known, will be arraigned on 22 counts of animal abuse in a Somerville, Tn., court today after a Grand Jury in the Fayette County Courthouse returned a true bill on Monday. The state charges were the result of an undercover video taken in 2011 and finally the man known as “Jackie The Jerk” will be brought before the court sometime in late spring.

McConnell, already a convicted felon after federal charges were proven in Chattanooga last year, will be arraigned with Jeff Dockery, who has three counts, and John Mayes, who has two. State authorities raided McConnell’s barn shortly after the scathing video showed him repeatedly clubbing, shocking and sadistically torturing the horses in his care to achieve the “Big Lick” unnatural gait that is today the scourge of the entire horse industry.

McConnell has a known record that includes over 30 unbroken years of persistent violations of the federal Horse Protection Act but, because laws have been so lax, he has done little more than wink and continue on his way. Last year Federal Judge Sandy Mattice forced the millionaire to pay a $75,000 fine and called him a felon, but McConnell, once a Hall of Fame trainer of the National Celebration headquarters in Shelbyville, could now see jail time on the state charges.

Efforts to reach Asst. DA Mark Davison in Fayette County were futile yesterday, but in July the state put into law an animal protection bill that made such abuse a felony, each count good for one-to-five years. Because the men were indicted before the law went into effect could be a sticking point; before the act of soring horses with caustic oils and pastes was merely a misdemeanor.

McConnell provided a trophy for this year’s Celebration and, while he is forbidden to own or train horses, it is suspected he still has a presence in the seedy “Big Lick” portion of showing horses, which has now made the state of Tennessee the world leader in horse abuse. (No other country purposely maims its horses for sport.)

McConnell’s lawyers, of course, are quick and eager to strike a plea with state prosecutors and knowledgeable persons suspect a judge in the West Tennessee court would approve such an arrangement if the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor might not be worthy of a full-face trial.

Federal prosecutors in Chattanooga are keen on better legislation – now proposed in Washington – and have said they will actively pursue horse abuse as horse-show season begins. “When you deal with murder, rape, strong-armed robbery, conspiracy and everything else we see, it is hard to admit horse abuse is pretty far down on the priority list,” said one assistant DA.

“But we are also well aware the public outcry against horse abuse is raging after the Jackie McConnell tape was shown on ABC News ‘Nightline’ and we haven’t had a case of any kind that caused such outrage. We will actively monitor and pursue and viable lead we can find.”

Officials of the Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other animal protection agencies are targeting Tennessee, as well as hotbeds of abuse in North Carolina and Kentucky. With last year’s success and strengthened Tennessee laws, many true horsemen feel violators must go to jail before the rampant soring will stop.

The top two equine veterinary groups in the United States have openly called on the nation’s lawmakers to ban the built-up pads, or stacks, that shady Walking Horse owners use, as well as performance devices and tight bands around the hooves. Legislation is pending but the “Big Lick” crowd is fighting back. Not long ago they held a reception for a disreputable Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell (not believed to be kin to Jackie).

The Kentucky senator has bullied the USDA to “lay off” the Shelbyville “Big Lick” crowd and was the subject of a scathing series in the Lexington newspaper this summer. But, just like the defiant and now-battered Big Lick hierarchy, the Republican Senator doesn’t seem to realize or even care he is a “bought” puppet of treacherous people.

Curiously, people haven’t forgotten the undercover tape or Jackie. The tape just won a Genesis Award in Los Angeles and copies of it have been viewed with disgust all over the world. Jackie is famous and, if state charges can somehow shoehorn the villain into jail, it will be a colossal achievement for the men and women worldwide who honor the horse.

royexum@aol.com

Jackie McConnell
Jackie McConnell

Please Give A Teacher The Pat On The Back They Deserve

   I'd like to start off by introducing myself to my District 1 constituents. I'm Jason Moses, and I would love to earn your vote. I hope you feel, like so many others, that I'm the best candidate to replace our current school board representative. There are currently three of us running for District 1 school board representative. I'm the best choice to to represent us ... (click for more)

Gays, Transgenders, And The Bible - And Response

I was baptized as a young child in the Universalist Church,  now the Unitarian. My family, both sides, are Methodist going back to the 1800's. I was married in the Episcopal Church. I thought seriously about becoming a Catholic or even a Jew but felt too old to go through all the training. The religious intolerance I heard and read seems to reside mostly in the South. ... (click for more)

County Commission Told To Fully Fund County Schools Improvement Request Would Take 28 1/2-Cent Property Tax Increase; 78 School Personnel Would Be Added

County Mayor Jim Coppinger told members of the County Commission at a budget workshop on Tuesday that it would take a 28 1/2-cent property tax increase to fully fund the county school budget request. The county schools are asking for $24,218,919 in new money for a focus on workforce readiness, literacy and low-performing schools. County Mayor Coppinger did not say whether ... (click for more)

Expansion By Developers Of McCallie Commons Would Raze 3 Old Houses On Oak Street

Developers of the McCallie Commons student housing at McCallie and Central are wanting to expand the project, but it would involve tearing down three old homes on Oak Street. The proposal from developer David Hudson would be an expansion of the four-story apartment building and separate parking garage with 300 parking spaces proposed that was approved earlier. The original ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Inter-Squad Scrimmage Saturday

Chattanooga FC will hold an Inter-squad match Saturday, May 7th, 7:00pm at Finley Stadium. The event is open to the public and free for all who attend.  The 2016 roster is set! The Inter-squad match will be the first chance for fans to see their CFC team in action. After the game, everyone will have the opportunity to get autographs, take photos, and talk with players, ... (click for more)

Baylor's Kayla Hughes Named FCA Christian Athlete Of The Year

Baylor School softball star, Kayla Hughes, was named the Greater Chattanooga FCA’s Christian Athlete of the Year at the ministry’s annual Day of Champions Sunday afternoon at Ridgedale Baptist Church.  Hughes, who will continue her softball career at Tennessee Tech, was chosen from among twelve high school FCA senior leaders nominated by area schools.  This is the 53rd ... (click for more)