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Mule-dragging suspect bound over to Hawkins grand jury

Jeff Bobo • Feb 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man accused of dragging a live mule behind his truck last October told police he was attempting to teach the animal to lead with a rope, according to testimony heard Wednesday in Hawkins County Sessions Court.

Following Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, several charges against Harry Evrett Richmond, 28, 346 E. Main St., Church Hill, were bound over to the Hawkins County grand jury including DUI fourth offense, cruelty to animals and driving on a revoked license second offense.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Don Mitchell was the only witness called to testify during Richmond’s preliminary hearing Wednesday.

On Oct. 10, Mitchell was dispatched to an area of Payne Ridge Road on a complaint of a man dragging a live mule behind his pickup. While en route, Mitchell received another radio report from Central Dispatch that the truck had wrecked and the mule was loose.

Mitchell testified that upon making contact with Richmond he detected an odor of alcohol on Richmond, and his speech was slurred. Initially Richmond told the officer a friend had been driving, but he later told the officer he’d backed the truck to try to turn it around with the mule tied behind it and got the truck stuck in a ditch.

Mitchell testified that he observed a short rope tied to the back of a truck and also noticed the mule in a nearby field with what appeared to be scrapes and abrasions.

Assistant Attorney General Alex Pearson said there is a witness who watched Richmond driving along the roadway with the animal tied to the back of the vehicle, but that witness was not called to testify in Wednesday’s hearing.

“Deputy Mitchell didn’t see that. He only observed the injuries to the animal,” Pearson said after the hearing. “The defendant did make a statement to Deputy Mitchell that he was attempting to train the animal to lead with the rope.”

Richmond submitted to a blood test that allegedly revealed his blood alcohol content to be 0.15 percent.

The animal cruelty charge is a misdemeanor, but DUI fourth offense is a Class E felony punishable by one to two years in prison.

There was no information available about the fate of the mule except that it was allowed to stay in that field immediately after the incident.

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