By Art Aisner, from AnnArbor.com
The trial for an Ypsilanti Township man accused of torturing dogs and trying to sell them to an undercover investigator for dog-fighting is scheduled to begin today in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
B.J. Jarrell, 33, is charged with two counts of possessing animals for dog fighting and one count of animal torture. He was arrested earlier this year after he and accused accomplice Daniel Ryback were caught in a sting operation coordinated by the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
Authorities answered a suspicious ad on the Internet for pit bulls for sale in the Ypsilanti area late last year, said Matt Schaecher, the Humane Society's lead cruelty investigator. With the help of the Livingston and Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team, they arranged several phone calls and a meeting, all recorded and expected to be key evidence presented during the trial.
During those conversations, both Jarrell and Ryback made statements and references consistent with dog fighting, such as discussing the animal’s lineage and even classification based on an ancestor’s fighting history, Schaecher said.
Investigators purchased two puppies from them for between $50 and $100 in late December. A subsequent search of Ryback’s home in the 2100 block Woodale Avenue revealed other dogs living in deplorable conditions, Schaecher said. Authorities seized the animals and condemned the property due to health code violations.
During their investigation, Schaecher said they learned Jarrell and Ryback would “crop” the ears of their dogs for sale, which involved slicing the ears so other dogs would have less to grab onto during a fight.
They allegedly used razor blades and no anesthetic, which led to animal cruelty charges.
“They were getting calls from buyers who had questions about cropped ears, and they decided to do it themselves,” Schaecher said.
Ryback, 33, pleaded no contest in July to one count of possessing an animal for fighting, court records show. Prosecutors agreed to drop counts of possessing animals for fighting and animal cruelty at sentencing, which was initially scheduled last week. Court officials said the hearing was delayed until Tuesday, and Ryback is expected to testify at Jarrell’s trial.
Court records also show Jarrell was arrested in February on assault charges. He pleaded no contest to a second-offense domestic violence charge in March and was placed on probation, court records show. He and Ryback were arrested on the animal complaints on April 2.
David Goldstein, Jarrell’s attorney, declined to comment.
Schaecher said all of the animals involved were adopted.
Update September 27, 2010 4:02pm - The following article is by Art Aisner, AnnArbor.com:
Ypsilanti Township man pleads guilty to possessing dogs for fighting
An Ypsilanti Township man pleaded guilty to charges related to dog fighting to avoid trial this morning in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Court officials said B.J. Jarrell, 33, pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of possessing animals for dog fighting before jury selection began. Prosecutors dropped one count of animal cruelty and won't prosecute Jarrell as a habitual offender.
Investigators said they caught Jarrell and his business partner, Daniel Ryback, trying to sell pit bull puppies online for the purpose of dog fighting. Authorities set up a sting operation and purchased two dogs. They also seized five others.
Ryback, 33, pleaded no contest to one count of possessing an animal for fighting in July and will be sentenced Tuesday, records show.
The charges are punishable by up to four years in prison, but Jarrell entered into a sentencing agreement with Circuit Judge Donald Shelton that will keep him out of prison, officials said. He could still be sent to jail pending the findings of a pre-sentence report.
Jarrell was on probation for a domestic violence conviction when charges were filed in April, court records show. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 2, and Jarrell remains free on bond.