Dog fighting case drags on in the courts

Wednesday, November 30th 2005, 10:14 am
By: News On 6

After more than a year, the fate of more than 4-dozen pit bulls at the Tulsa City Animal Shelter is still in limbo. The dogs have been kept there ever since they were seized from an alleged dog-fighting operation.

Now protestors in Okmulgee County worry that one of the former suspects in the case might get them back.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says protestors lined up outside the Okmulgee County courthouse Wednesday to urge the District Attorney to take action on behalf of the dogs.

They're kept at the Tulsa shelter because that's the only place there's room for them. Authorities say they belonged to LeShon Johnson, a former NFL running back and Oklahoma high school star, who still faces dog fighting charges out of Hughes County.

The dogs were seized in McIntosh County at property belonging to his brother Luther Johnson, and Luther's girlfriend, Shevetta Lee. Protestors say the two were also charged but the charges were later dropped and now they say unless the DA files new charges, Lee could get the dogs back. Ruth Steinberger: "This is so outrageous that I just couldn't turn away from it."

But the Okmulgee County DA, who oversees McIntosh County as well, says there just isn't enough evidence against Shevetta Lee. He says while the dogs were found in his jurisdiction, the actual fighting is alleged to have taken place in Hughes County. So there's not much he can do. And considering that Hughes County has already dropped charges against Lee, it seems unlikely they would try filing new ones.

It's all very frustrating for the protestors who say investigators looked at Lee for a reason. Ruth Steinberger: "They didn't just go from a site in Hughes County and suddenly take a notion to drive around McIntosh County and find this, there's a reason they expected to find contraband there, and they did find it."

The News on 6 talked to the Hughes County District Attorney. She said they might still need the dogs as evidence and might challenge Lee's request to get them back. She also said a judge could decide they're still fighting dogs, which would mean nobody could have them.