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Two enter plea in animal fighting in Halifax County

A pair of defendants entered Alford pleas Tuesday in Halifax County Circuit Court to charges related to animal fighting in a 2010 raid in Cluster Springs.

Daniel Tyler Clayton, 25, of South Boston entered an Alford plea to four misdemeanor charges of promoting animal fighting, and Donna Dunn Wall, 55, of South Boston entered an Alford plea to four misdemeanor charges of authorizing animal fighting.

Under terms of an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but realizes prosecution evidence would make a guilty finding at trial almost a certainty.

Todd Moser, Halifax County chief animal control warden, executed a search warrant in November 2010 at a residence in the Cluster Springs community, directly across the road from Cluster Springs Elementary School, in reference to a possible cockfighting organization.

The animal control warden seized 54 chickens altogether, 19 of which were fighting cocks and the rest breeding hens.

Cockfighting reading material, transport boxes and other numerous items related to cockfighting were found. Moser said officials had that location under surveillance for a period of time. 

Under terms of the Alford plea agreement, the court sentenced Clayton to 12 months in jail for each conviction, with all but 60 days suspended, conditioned on his good behavior for three years, and with credit for time served.

The court authorized weekend jail confinement for Clayton if he qualifies.

The agreement calls for Clayton to be placed on unsupervised probation for one year, and it called for Clayton not to own any animals for three years.

Under terms of the agreement, the defendant is not allowed to bring any new animals into his family’s home; however his children are allowed to keep their dog and rabbit, but Animal Control will have the right to inspect his premises to ensure the safety of the animals.

Under terms of the Alford plea agreement, the court sentenced Wall to 12 months in prison for each of the four charges, with all time suspended, conditioned on her good behavior for three years.

The court ordered Wall placed on unsupervised probation for one year, and it ordered her not to own any farm animals for three years.

Wall is allowed to foster dogs for the area SPCA, but Animal Control will have a right to inspect her premises to ensure the safety of the animals.

Clayton and Wall were indicted in January 2011 for charges related to engaging, attending, preparing or being employed in animal fighting.