Tuesday afternoon at the Randall County courthouse, jury selection started for the Alpha Tex trial involving hundreds of dogs that were seized from the kennel near Lockney.
Sandra and Mark Smith, the owners of Alpha Tex, are fighting to get their large-breed dogs back after Floyd County Sheriff deputies removed nearly 200 dogs from the property in September with a warrant stating the dogs were living in poor conditions.
Tuesday morning before jury selection started the Smith's attorney Paul Holloway filed several motions, including a plea to jurisdiction and a motion to suppress. Holloway says the court has no jurisdiction to rule on this case and that the warrant to seize the dogs was not based on probable cause – therefore void. Judge John B. Board denied both motions.
The judge did however grant several motions, including one that prohibits Sandra Smith from being called to testify. Holloway says Sandra recently had a stroke and that it's difficult for her to organize her thoughts.
Around 2:45 p.m., a jury of seven was selected to hear the case. Opening arguments followed shortly after.
The State's attorney, Donald Feare, started first. Feare told the jurors he expects they will find the dogs were cruelly treated once they see pictures of them living in "kennels covered in feces and urine."
He stated the dogs' water was "green and filled with insect larva," and this condition didn't just happen overnight; but was something that has been going on for months.
The Smiths' attorney addressed the jurors next, saying there was a series of events that led to the conditions the dogs were in. Holloway told the jurors that the pictures they would see were "staged" by Humane Society volunteers. He said "looks can be deceiving" and warned the jurors to "wait to hear all the facts" of the case before making assumptions. Holloway says the kennels were the Smiths' livelihood and the seizure of the dogs was an act of "retaliation from animal activists" and a rival business that also sells and breeds dogs.
Around 3:45 p.m., as Feare began to call his first witness - a humane society animal investigator - Holloway filed a motion to dismiss, saying there was a lack of proceedings and lack of notice. Judge Board denied the motion and the animal investigator took the stand.
Court wrapped up at 5:15 p.m., but will continue at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Witnesses expected to take the stand include Floyd County Sheriff Paul Raissez and two veterinarians who have handled the dogs.
During the first trial, Floyd County Justice of the Peace Tali Jackson ruled the dogs had been cruelly treated and awarded custody to the Humane Society of West Texas. The Smiths appealed her decision and were able to get a change of venue to Canyon, saying they would not be able to get a fair trial in Floyd County.
Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11