GUILTY PLEA: One pleads guilty in dog-fighting case

COLUMBIA CITY — One person of the 18 charged with being at dog fighting contest on Saturday pleaded guilty to the charges brought before him in Whitley County Superior Court on Wednesday.Excell L. Hazzard, 44, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to the charge of attending an animal fighting contest, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to serve six months in the Whitley County Jail with six months of the sentence also suspended, and ordered to pay fines and serve 40 hours of community service in an animal shelter.Deputy Attorney D.J. Sigler in his statement advised the court to impose justice in the case. Hazzard, speaking in his defense without an attorney, did not justify his behavior.Judge Doug Fahl in his sentencing said that Hazzard knew what sort of activity he was participating in when he came to Churubusco from Chicago. Fahl did add that Hazzard’s cooperation made him a little more lenient.There were 17 other defendants that were charged in this case. Edward E. Smith, 36, who is occupying the house at 906 E. Ind. 205 in Churubusco which was the site of the arrests, was charged with three Class D felonies, two Class A misdemeanors and one Class B misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was given a pre-trial date of Jan. 29.Robert Stouder, 39, also of Churubusco, pleaded not guilty to the Class A misdemeanor charge of attending an animal fighting contest. There were three dogs taken from Smith’s residence with injuries. Those animals were taken to the Whitley County Humane Shelter. Lindsay Pease of the Humane Shelter said that the primary focus at present was on the dogs’ medical needs, with rehabilitation being a future concern.For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Jan. 3 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.