Push Seaberry

Push Seaberry looks down while listening to closing arguments Tuesday. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

Damning videos taken from a cellphone were too much for a dog-fighting suspect to overcome Tuesday in Jones County Circuit Court.

A jury of eight black women, two white women, one black man and one white man took about 10 minutes to convict Push Seaberry, 32, of dog-fighting.

Judge Dal Williamson sentenced Seaberry to three years in state prison and to pay a $3,000 fine and court costs.

“If I could sentence you to five years, I would,” said Williamson, who scolded Seaberry for his participation in dogfights captured on cellphone video between two dogs — Zeus and Blue.

The maximum sentence for dog-fighting — up until July of this year — was three years. A new state law went into effect on July 1, upping the maximum penalty to five years in prison. But because Seaberry’s offense occurred in 2017, he was sentenced under what the law was then.

“Fighting those dogs to the point of exhaustion and near death is barbaric… it’s not civilized,” Williamson said before pronouncing sentence. “Watching those videos, I thought, ‘This is never going to stop.’”

The case began in August 2017 at 461 Rose Lane when the maintenance man at the trailer park called the Jones County Sheriff’s Department about possible dog fighting in the woods close to Lot 18, which was occupied by Seaberry and his girlfriend.

Nine dogs were seized from the property. The dogs were chained to trees and many were malnourished and showed signs of having been used in fighting. Seaberry was arrested and a search of his trailer led to a cellphone that had three videos stored on it.

Jones County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Robert Little, a trained forensic cellphone analyst, testified that the videos were produced on the phone, not downloaded from another source. In the first video, it shows Seaberry holding Zeus, a pit-bull mix, as another man holds another dog — Blue — as they encourage the dogs to attack one another. No fighting is seen on that one.

But on two others, Zeus and Blue are both seen — as well as Seaberry and other unidentified people, including a young boy believed to be about 4 years old — involved in vicious fighting. At one point in the video, the child is seen mere inches from the fighting dogs.

The most chilling of the videos is one that lasted nearly 10 minutes and showed the two dogs at near exhaustion, clinging to each other’s faces, being encouraged to continue fighting by Seaberry and other people gathered. Seaberry never said in court or in his interrogation video who the other participants were.

“Let them fight. I don’t care, I have more dogs,” one person says on the video.

“Take it to the end, Zeus, take him down,” Seaberry can be heard saying.

“Put that ni--a down in his own doghouse,” another yells at Blue.

Seaberry from the beginning said that four of the nine Rose Lane dogs found in the wooded area near his trailer were his and that he fed and cared for them, while the other five belonged to neighbors. He admitted that he was at the dog fights, but denied organizing them.

Defense attorney Michael Mitchell contended the statute, which reads that to be guilty a person must, “sponsor, promote, stage or conduct” a dogfight, did not apply to Seaberry because he was merely a participant and did nothing to promote or stage the fights.

“My reply to that is, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” District Attorney Tony Buckley said in his closing arguments. 

The man in the first video shown, Jason Brandon Herring, was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and cruelty to animals in June. He is serving a three-year sentence and was identified because of tattoos deputies had seen during previous arrests.

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