Charges Filed in Magistrate Lead to Protests by Activists
Animal rights activists led by local resident Brenda Tucker protested in front of the Tyler County Magistrate Office early on Dec. 18 in regards to allegations against Wyatt Kemp, 19, of Tyler County. Kemp was arrested and charged on Dec. 4 with two felony counts of cruelty to animals.
Tucker said the protests were not just about Kemp’s alleged crime, but the protests were also about ensuring the courts uphold and enforce the laws regarding animal cruelty.
The protesters explained that, upon research, they found the laws state that anyone who tortures, mutilates, or kills an animal is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall face jail time and be issued a fine. Thus, Tucker said she’s demanding justice in the case.
“We’re not here to hurt anyone,” she said. Tucker and the other protesters maintained they just want animals to be protected.
Tucker said the protest was organized to ensure that this matter is not “swept under the rug.” She and other protesters said they wanted to spread the word, in order for future cases to be brought to justice properly.
The investigation regarding the allegations against Kemp is still ongoing. Although protesters are convinced of his guilt, Kemp has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of animal cruelty.
On Tuesday afternoon Tyler County Magistrate Mary Dotson said a motion, made by the defense, to continue the case and wave the time period for the preliminary hearing was granted. The case will be rescheduled for a later date.
Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney Luke Furbee has since provided the following statement on the matter:
“On December 4, 2018, Wyatt C. Kemp, age 19, of Friendly, was charged by Deputy J.C. Satterfield of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office with two felony counts of “cruelty to animals” in separate complaints filed in Tyler County Magistrate Court. The crimes were alleged to have been committed on or about November 21, 2018. The defendant was arraigned and admitted to bail. A preliminary examination was scheduled for December 18, 2018, but was continued upon a defense motion. The continuance of a preliminary examination is a common and routine procedure. A preliminary examination is not a trial where the defendant’s guilt or innocence will be determined. The purpose of a preliminary examination is to determine whether or not there is enough evidence at this stage of the proceedings to require the defendant to be held to answer to a grand jury.”
“It is my understanding that this matter has garnered a good deal of public interest. As in any case, I am carefully reviewing the matter. While I understand that cases such as this one can evoke strong emotions, I don’t believe it is good for the peace and dignity of the community or the mission of the justice system for those passions to transform into invective on social media.This matter will be adjudicated in a court of law, not on Facebook or in the media.
“I am a minister of justice. The defendant in this case is entitled to a fair hearing. He is presumed by the law to be innocent, and that will not change unless he is determined to be guilty in an appropriate court proceeding. Likewise, the citizens of the county and the victims of the alleged offenses are entitled to a vigorous prosecution based on the law and the evidence available. To the best of my skill and judgment, that will be the kind of prosecution I will conduct, as in any case.”