The officer testified in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court during a preliminary hearing for Tracy residents Kenneth Baldwin, 35, and Gracie Baldwin, 36, who are married, and Luther Brewer, 49. The three are accused of training fighting dogs and aiding and permitting dogfights.
The hearing Wednesday was a continuation of proceedings begun Nov. 8 and delayed because of a scheduling conflict for Judge Ron Northup and one of the three defense attorneys.
Eric Sakach, a law enforcement official from the Humane Society of the United States, testified Wednesday that of the 14 dogs seized, seven dogs from the Baldwins’ house at 2386 Lighthouse Circle and two dogs from Brewer’s home at 2105 Elsie Way had injuries that were consistent with dog fighting.
The dogs had “hallmark scars” that indicated healing bite wounds, he said, including one of the six puppies at the Baldwins’ house.
“In my view, some or all of the dogs were possessed for fighting,” he said.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Indran asked Sakach about other evidence found at the two residences that could be linked to dog fighting.
Sakach said he saw a variety of dog medications, a medical kit, breaking sticks used to pry open a dog’s mouth, fur hides that are commonly used to entice fighting, bite ropes, a surgical stapler used to close wounds, and books on dog fighting.
Indran also asked Sakach about a section of carpet found at Brewer’s house.
Sakach described what appeared to be bloodstains. He said it was common for fighting arenas to use carpet to improve traction for the dogs.
He said dogfights might last from 45 minutes to three hours, and the carpet would soak up fluids, such as blood or urine.
Kenneth Baldwin’s attorney, Armando Villapudua, questioned whether any of the dogs’ wounds were fresh when they were seized.
Sakach said he didn’t observe any open wounds, but veterinarian examinations showed that several dogs had multiple scars. He said the exams didn’t determine when the injuries had occurred.
After Indran told the judge he had presented all of his witnesses, the three defense attorneys said they had no witnesses to testify.
In addition to the dog fighting charges, Gracie Baldwin is accused of being a felon in possession of ammunition, and Brewer is accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Before the judge could make his ruling on the charges against the three defendants, he questioned whether any evidence had been presented as cause to charge Gracie Baldwin with possession of ammunition.
Because the first part of the preliminary hearing was two months earlier, the prosecution and defense attorneys all said they could not recall.
Indran, the prosecutor, asked Northup to hold the defendants to answer for the charges while they checked the court transcripts.
Instead, Northup ruled to continue the hearing at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 30, to give the lawyers time to review the testimony and hear defense arguments.
All three defendants remain free.
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