Not guilty: Man arrested after taking in stray dog acquitted by judge

L-R: Attorney Chuck Ward, Kyle Wayne Holmes
L-R: Attorney Chuck Ward, Kyle Wayne Holmes

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - A Clinton man was acquitted after he was arrested for the theft of a dog that wandered up on his property nearly one year ago.

The defense for Kyle Wayne Holmes filed a motion to have the charges dismissed, which was granted by Judge William Carmichael on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

"We presented evidence today and he made the judge made a decision to acquit the case," Holmes said. "It turned out really well. I'm glad we came to a conclusion on this and I can move forward with my everyday normal life again."

It all started back in May 2013 when Holmes found a purebred mastiff in his yard. He took the dog in, but later gave it to Denham Springs resident Lori Williams. When the dog's true owner, Trooper Tommy Lea, contacted Holmes, he sent him to Williams. That's when the dispute began and law enforcement eventually became involved.

What Holmes did not know is that Williams sold the dog and allegedly lied to Lea and law enforcement. She was later arrested and officials say she was recently found guilty of criminal mischief.

Holmes was also arrested and charged with felony theft. Investigators believed that Holmes did not make a reasonable attempt to find the dog's rightful owners. However, they could not prove Holmes knew Williams intended to sell the dog.

"It was very degrading to me as a person who does not have a criminal background to be accused of something very erroneous in the first place," Holmes said.

Although the charge was eventually downgraded to a misdemeanor, Holmes filed a civil suit against the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office and Lea.

"Now that the criminal matter is resolved, we will move forward full steam ahead with the civil matter," Holmes said.

The suit claims that the parish and Lea violated two existing Louisiana laws.

On the part of the parish, the suit cites LSA-R.S. 3:2774, "Each parish shall provide suitable shelters or facilities for dogs seized under the provisions of this Part." The reason this is significant is because the original arrest reported noted that Holmes did not contact the Sheriff's office in regards to the dog, which is considered policy due to the fact that the area does not have a parish-run shelter.

The second law cited is LSA-R.S. 3:27771, "No person shall suffer or permit any dog in his possession, or kept by him about his premises, to run at large on any unenclosed land, or trespass upon any enclosed or unenclosed lands of another." This is significant because in the original arrest report, it notes that the dog's owner admittedly allowed his dog to run around in his yard without a leash, which allowed for it to escape and wander off.

Lea declined to comment following the outcome of the trial. A representative for the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office also declined to comment due to the pending nature of the lawsuit.

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