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JUSTICE MUST BE WON

Alabama/The Mobile News

Man guilty on six counts of dog fighting


Wife acquitted of all charges by same jury


Saturday, March 19, 2005
 

By GARY McELROY
Staff Reporter

Walter Tyrone Ware, who went on trial this week charged with six counts of
activities related to dog fighting and possession of a controlled
substance was found guilty on all counts Friday.

His wife, Tanisa Latrice Ware, was acquitted of her dog fighting-related
charges by the same Mobile County Circuit Court jury after deliberating an
hour.

During the trial, several prosecution witnesses described the physical
condition of 23 pit bulls found Dec. 30, 2003, on the Ware's property as
gruesome.

According to testimony, only two or three of the dogs were not disfigured
with multiple injuries. All were dehydrated and emaciated to various
degrees. Most had scars indicating old wounds to their legs and muzzles.
Dr. John Symes, a Mobile veterinarian, told jurors the wounds had been
caused by other dogs.

When law enforcement officials raided Ware's Boykin Boulevard home they
found most of the dogs tethered on heavy logging chains, witnesses said.
The lengths of chains kept them just out of reach of the others.

Witnesses said that with the exception of one pit bull, who was vicious
toward man and beast, the animals' reactions to the law enforcement and
animal control officials were benign, even affectionate. They wagged their
tails and allowed the humans to approach and handle them.

But Symes said that when they were taken to an animal control facility and
given proximity but not access to one another, there was a "Jekyll and
Hyde transformation ... they went crazy" -- biting, growling, snapping and
lunging with "explosive aggression" at the cage wire separating them.
This behavior, the vet said, indicated both their training and fate.

"I have no doubt in my mind they were used for dog fighting," Symes said.
One's dog's tongue was missing, witnesses said. It could neither eat nor
drink. Some of the animals had had teeth wrenched from their mouths. Many
were so ill-fed, their ribs and vertebrae were showing. One female
appeared to be in medical shock.

Six of the pit bulls had fresh wounds and were covered in blood, witnesses
said.

Walter Ware also faced a charge of possession of steroids, which
prosecutors said was used to make the pit bulls stronger, more durable and
more aggressive.

Every one of the 23 dogs taken from the Ware property was eventually
euthanized by authorities. The first to die was the one with the missing
tongue.

A defense attorney called the officials "dog killers."

Originally, three other men were charged with lesser crimes in connection
with what amounted to a raid on the Ware property in late 2003.

This week they went to trial along with the Wares before Circuit Judge
Charles Graddick. Friday afternoon the three men's attorneys asked for and
received from Graddick a directed verdict of acquittal and they walked
free.

Mobile attorneys Robert "Cowboy Bob" Clark and Dom Soto represented the
Wares. They argued at the end of the trial that various pieces of
equipment prosecutors described as training equipment to make pit bulls
fight -- treadmills, ropes, baited wheels and other bits of gear -- were
not gladiator-like tools but everyday gadgets used in showing and breeding
the dogs.

Tanisa Ware, 31, testified she didn't know about the dogs on her property
in south Mobile, and never saw them.

Walter Ware, 33, did not testify.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright said outside court the
prosecution of Ware was the first trial in Alabama under the new statutes
regarding dog fighting.

She warned there would be more.

(Note: Soto represented Ms. Ware.)
 

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