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

Lessons From My Dad, Marty Haynes

Enough is enough. I have heard Marty Haynes’ name drug through the mud for far too long. Let me tell you a few things that I have learned from my father, that now as a family man myself I realize are far more important than anything else.  1. Be Faithful in your Service- My dad learned this trait from my grandparents, Dub and Norma Haynes- Mr. and Mrs. Hixson High 1951, ... (click for more)

TVA Coal Reductions Could Come With High Price Tag

Reliable, low-cost electricity has always been the backbone of the Tennessee Valley economy. Low-cost power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, generated by a balanced mix of coal, natural gas and nuclear, drives the valley’s manufacturing economy and makes the region an attractive destination for business. In the process, Tennessee has developed the fourth largest automotive manufacturing ... (click for more)

Firefighters Stop Fire At Local IHOP Restaurant

Chattanooga firefighters did not have far to go when fire broke out at the IHOP on Highway 153 in Hixson around  9 a.m.  on Friday. Battalion Chief Don Bowman and firefighters with Quint 16 had just enjoyed a nice breakfast there while having a morning staff meeting. When the firefighters returned to their fire truck and were getting ready to drive off, one of the firefighters ... (click for more)

City Councilman Chris Anderson Gearing Up For Election A Year Away

City Councilman Chris Anderson is already gearing up for the next city election, though it is over a year away. In the financial disclosures due Feb. 1, he reported receiving $24,165 for the reporting period from July 16, 2015 to Jan. 16, 2016. He spent $4,887 during that period. Councilman Yusuf Hakeem took in $11,110 during the period. Councilman Russell Gilbert reported ... (click for more)

Tyner Overcomes Central's Hot Start To Claim 47-42 Win

Central raced to a 12-0 lead, but decided to sit back and enjoy Senior Night. Tyner went to work. Tyner battled for 29-plus minutes before taking its first lead, fought off every challenge Central could muster down the stretch and knocked off the District 6-2A regular season champions, 47-42, Thursday night at Central High School. “Central came out clicking on all ... (click for more)

Clemons, Lynn Named Miss Basketball Finalists

Baylor's Kaleigh Clemons and McMinn Central's Jacobi Lynn were named finalist for Ms. Basketball on Saturday. There were no local nominees for Mr. Basketball from the Chattanooga area. The awards will be presented to the top girls and boys in five classifications of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association on the floor of Murphy Center on the campus of MTSU on Tuesday, ... (click for more)