Kenneth Baldwin, 35, Gracie Baldwin, 36, and Luther Brewer, 49, are charged with aiding, permitting and training a fighting dog.
Kenneth Baldwin and Gracie Baldwin, husband and wife, face additional charges of being present at dogfights, cultivating marijuana and possession of hash oil.
Brewer faces additional charges of being a felon allegedly in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
According to Sgt. Jason Ramos, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriffs Office, the defendants have ties to those allegedly involved in a “massive” dog fighting operation that was raided by officers in Benton County, Mississippi, on March 31.
According to reports, nearly 50 people were arrested in Mississippi at the site of an alleged dog fight, and Ramos said Kenneth Baldwin was allegedly one of the 100 or so people who escaped during the Mississippi raid.
Officers from the Sacramento and Placer County Sheriff’s Department and officials of the Humane Society of the United States conducted the raids in Tracy.
Ramos confirmed that the Baldwins were arrested at 2386 Lighthouse Circle, and Brewer at 2105 Elsie Way.
Ramos said officers seized a dozen dogs from the Baldwin residence — “mostly pit bulls, definitely fighting dogs,” according to Ramos. Two were found at Brewer’s house.
“I heard from the animal control guy that they (the dogs) displayed signs, some of them, of having been involved in fighting,” Ramos said. “He said their injuries were consistent with what they normally see (in fighting dogs).”
The defendants were arraigned in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court on Friday, April 5, on their charges.
Superior Court Judge James Cadle appointed public defender Berthier “Butch” Maciel to represent Kenneth Baldwin and attorney Jay Alan Childs to represent Gracie Baldwin.
Attorney Jesse Garcia was present but refused to say if Brewer hired him.
Maciel asked the judge to releasing Kenneth Baldwin without bail, saying Baldwin was the single financial provider for five children and that he was promised a janitors job upon his release.
Cadle denied Maciel’s request but lowered the bail of both Baldwins to $500,000 from $1.4 million. Brewer’s bail was set at $200,000.
All three defendants were ordered back to Manteca court at 8:30 a.m. on April 10 for further arraignment.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, the defendants remained in San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp.
After Friday’s court hearing, a woman who identified herself as Kenneth Baldwin’s mother, Deborah Baldwin, said her son loves dogs.
“He’s always been a dog lover,” she said. “He breeds dogs — he doesn’t fight them.”
She said her son breeds pit bulls in Tracy and that he only had 10 dogs at the time of his arrest. She said the dogs ranged in age from adults to puppies.
The dogs seized in Tracy are in the custody of Sacramento County Animal Control, and are expected to be evaluated to see if they are suitable for adoption, Ramos said.
Though her group isn’t handling the dogs, Mary Debusschere, vice president of Tracy-area animal rescue operation Friends of Canines Animal Rescue, called the scenario “our worst nightmare.”
“I’m glad the police department is actually taking the time to stop that,” she said. “I’m pleased to see support to go after these people. I don’t understand that sport.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.