Judge Judith Sheindlin, the mega-millionaire television judge who rules daytime TV, often says to those before her: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory.”

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy

Did you read that correctly, Sheriff Alex Hodge?

Let us take you to last Thursday’s Hodge Facebook Live TV show. He is flanked by Lt. David Ward and public relations employee Allyson Knotts discussing the animal cruelty raid on Lyon Ranch Road.

The sheriff was facing a brutal couple days after Election Day, where he came within a few hundred votes of being knocked out of the second-highest law enforcement post in Jones County. 

On his video, he pillories this newspaper — and this columnist front-and-center — while defending the actions of his department in July 2018. 

During his spiel about me, he said, Sean Murphy “admitted to ‘quote’ helping care for the animals. There wasn’t a lot of caring going on for those animals.”

I never said that. Quite the contrary. I probably should have noticed and offered help, but I didn’t. I never did help. 

But here is the sheriff saying that I did, then added the actual word “quote” to it — without air quotes — care for the animals.

That brings up a ton of questions. If the Sennes were arrested for committing a crime and I participated in the care (I didn’t), why wasn’t I arrested the day of the Sennes’ arrest? On Sunday, Hodge was asked that question and he said he didn’t know.

I do know, sheriff. 

Here’s why: You made it up.

I know, here is where the Hodge supporters will jump on me — “Well, you lie all the time and the sheriff is a good man. Why should we believe you?”

As the great New York television sports anchor Warner Wolf would say, “Let’s go to the videotape!”

Before exiting the car July 11, 2018 on Lyon Ranch Road, I told my wife, “Once we get out of this car, you start recording and don’t stop.” I don’t trust the leaders of the sheriff’s department as far as I could throw them, which, at my advanced age, isn’t very far.

Camera rolls.

There I am, seen from the back, talking to a national rescue organization representative and Maj. Jamie Tedford of the JCSD about what measures the homeowners would need to take involving the animals. 

About halfway through the interview, the woman from the rescue starts her interrogation.

“Do you participate in any of the care-taking of these animals?” she asked me.

“No,” I said with a visible head shake.

Fast-forward a few minutes and it is the sheriff’s right-hand man’s turn. Tedford and I don’t see eye to eye, so surely if he could nail me as part of that raid, he would have without a mustache hair of a doubt.

“Y’all never helped feed or water these animals?” he asked.

“No,” I responded.

“OK,” Tedford shot back.

But the sheriff — who quoted John 8:32 with a “Truth will set you free” reference — said “I quote” Murphy admitted to helping care for those animals.

I challenge the sheriff to find where I admitted to caring for those animals and let us see it. If you cannot find it  you should publicly apologize for accusing me of being involved in a “crime.” And I mean publicly — courthouse steps publicly.

Also on that Facebook event last Thursday comes this questionable exchange. Ward is defending himself and the department’s actions that day. He says this: “I’ve read books on micro-managing before. I used to work for a chief that made you read books to get promotions. This (Hodge) is probably the most non-micro-managing person I have ever worked for.

“... He (Sheriff Hodge) really didn’t know about (the raid). I did,” Ward said to the Lyon Ranch Road raid.

“Which I entrusted you,” the sheriff said. 

In another Ward statement, he said: “(Hodge) really didn’t know about this case until that day, when he walked onto that property. So when you say the sheriff went and did this and did that, guns-a-blazing… well, he really didn’t know about it.”

An operation involving hundreds of volunteers from across the country, other law enforcement agencies, huge law enforcement presence and you want us to believe the 100 percent committed, full-time sheriff didn’t know about it even though it had been in the works for at least three weeks? 

    That takes non-micro- managing to a new level.

Or did he know about it and was using this as an opportunity to distance himself from a case he should know deep down he handled terribly from the start?

But how do we prove he knew about it… 

Take it away, Warner!

July 11, 2018. A cowboy-hat-wearing sheriff, his spokesperson and a member of SCAR are standing in the middle of a dirt road on the Sennes’ property. It’s about eight minutes into the video when the sheriff pipes in: “How did we get here? I mean, I know, We had… we had meetings, strategy meetings and logistics...”

But I thought you were in the dark about this entire operation? 

It is beyond comprehension that you didn’t know about it. If it is true, it calls your commitment to the job into question, no matter how much you trust your lieutenants.

The truth shall set you free!

Sean Murphy is managing editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at murph@leader-call.com.

PS: Slander attorneys… email me!

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