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story.lead_photo.caption Demarkus Antonio Wesley

TEXARKANA, Ark. —A local man is facing charges of animal cruelty and evidence tampering in connection with the alleged abuse of horses on property in Texarkana, Ark., last May.

Demarkus Antonio Wesley, 33, was arrested by Texarkana police Jan. 24 on warrants issued last year. In exchange for her cooperation in locating Wesley, charges of animal cruelty and hindering apprehension were dismissed Monday against Wesley's former girlfriend.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell said she doesn't believe Wesley's former girlfriend was responsible for the alleged animal abuse but that she had alerted Wesley to the investigation, allowing him to move animals and other evidence.

Wesley was formally charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and a single felony count of tampering with physical evidence. He was also arrested on warrants issued last year for interfering with a law enforcement or code officer and terroristic threatening involving Animal Control Officer Jackie Mullins.

Wesley allegedly called Mullins after animals were seized from his residence and made threatening statements, Mitchell said.

At his initial court appearance Monday, Wesley was ordered to have no contact with Mullins should he post bond on his $50,000 bail.

Wesley was allegedly living on property in the 800 block of Johnson Lane, where horses and other animals were kept, according to a probable cause affidavit. Animal control personnel received complaints that Wesley was intentionally withholding food and water from a horse.

"We anticipated the removal of three horses and two dogs as well as some additional evidence said to be used in the incident that had occurred on May 6, 2019," the affidavit states.

When animal control officers and members of the Texarkana, Ark., Police Department visited the property May 8, they found a brown-and-white horse "said to be two years of age" but later determined to be twice as old and likely suffering from stunted growth caused by malnutrition. The horse was tied to a tree with a rope about one-and-a-half to two-feet long, which prevented it from putting its head down in a fenced-in area, which was less than an acre.

While there was water nearby, the horse could not reach it. Witnesses allegedly told authorities that Wesley withholds food and water from horses to "punish" them when he feels they have misbehaved and that he removed horses and guns before officers arrived to seize them.

Officers determined no one was home when they arrived. After knocking for some time, the officers entered the house. Inside they found a caged pit bull with adequate food and water, and noticed a room filled with a large amount of horse tack. Officers did not find a whip or other items witnesses had described seeing Wesley use and investigators believe they were removed in anticipation of a visit from law enforcement.

Felony animal cruelty and evidence tampering are both punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Wesley is being held in the Miller County jail. He is scheduled to appear Feb. 18 before Miller County Circuit Judge Carlton Jones.

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