Probation revoked in dogfighting case

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A man who received a five-year probation last year for unlawful animal fighting was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday.

Jaquavian Jaqwon Johnson, 20, appeared with a public defender Tuesday afternoon at a hearing to address his probation status before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones. Johnson admitted he had violated the terms of his probations for animal fighting and other offenses and received a five-year prison sentence.

According to a probable cause affidavit, authorities received a report the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2017, of men fighting pit bull dogs on property near 11th Street in Texarkana, Ark. When officers arrived, they spoke to two men, later identified as Johnson and Christopher Harper, who were in possession of a red and brindle pit bull with ears, “cut back almost to his head.” According to animal rights sources, cutting a dog’s ears back is done to prevent other dogs from latching on to them during a fight.

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The dog’s owner, who allegedly gave a false name but was later identified as Harper, claimed he bought the dog with cut ears and promised to take the ailing animal to a veterinarian. The men denied they had been fighting dogs. Later the same day, authorities received another report of dog fighting in the same area. Officers made contact a second time with Johnson and noted that his white pit bull had puncture wounds and other injuries consistent with dog fighting. Harper allegedly did not seek treatment for his dog’s cut ears.

Johnson pleaded guilty to unlawful animal fighting at a hearing Oct. 23, 2017. He also entered pleas of guilty to residential burglary and theft of property in connection with an offense committed Dec. 22, 2016, in Miller County. Johnson received five years probation on each case to be served at the same time.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell handled the animal fighting case and Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Black handled the burglary and theft cases. Motions filed to revoke all three probations accused Johnson of committing a new offense, of using drugs, of failing to participate in a substance abuse class and of failing to pay money owed.

Johnson was arrested Dec. 9, 2017, in Hope, Ark., for misdemeanor domestic battery. According to the petitions, Johnson tested positively for marijuana use on Oct. 25, 2017, and Feb. 1, 2018. Johnson was dropped from a chemical dependency education class for non-participation in May.

As a condition of his probation in the animal fighting case, Johnson was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $5,240 in restitution to the Animal Care and Adoption Center. Johnson reportedly failed to make payments toward those obligations and failed to acquire and maintain stable employment.

Johnson received a five-year prison term on each of the charges. He also received one-year terms of suspended imposition of sentence on the animal fighting and theft cases and a five-year term of suspended imposition of sentence on the burglary. If Johnson commits additional crimes upon release from prison he could be ordered to serve more time.

Harper pleaded guilty in February to unlawful animal fighting and aggravated animal cruelty at a hearing in February. He is currently serving a five-year term of probation.

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