Four suspects in Howard Co. cockfighting. stand before the court

ST. PAUL, Nebraska (Nebraska). Four of the 10 suspects arrested for cockfighting in December will face trial.

Martin Montelongo and Ernest Ceballos Lopez of Grand Island, Rubén Mesa Puentes of Wood River and Angel Gutierrez of Chapman withdrew from evidence hearings in a Howard County court. The judge then referred the four cases to Howard County Circuit Court for arraignment on March 24.

At the prosecution hearing, the suspect usually pleads guilty or not guilty. If the case goes to court, it will be heard in the district court.

The remaining six suspects, Eduardo Alcantar, Jose Reyes Jimenez, Jorge Rodriguez, Jesus Serrano Sanchez and Victor Mora, all from Grand Island, and Gustavo Renteria Garcia from Palmer, are scheduled for March or April.

Each of the ten suspects is charged with cockfighting, which is a felony. Under Nebraska law, this carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and 18 months of probation or a $10,000 fine, or both.

State law defines cockfighting as promoting, participating in, or witnessing a cockfight. The crime also includes animals being forced to fight each other, including dogs, chickens, and bear-baiting. According to the online dictionary definitions, bear-baiting is the practice of one or more dogs attacking a chained bear.

The Howard County Sheriff arrested 10 people on Dec. 17 in a rural area about 15 miles north of Grand Island.

Howard County Sheriff Tom Bush said deputies received a 911 call about illegal gambling involving roosters in rural Howard County and were investigating the report with Nebraska Games and Parks employees. A warrant was obtained to search the property.

According to him, the deputies found seven roosters, one of which later died from injuries during one of the fights. He said the roosters were taken off site where they would be cared for until the court cases were over and they were instructed what to do with them.

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