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Defendant Takes The Stand In Dog Fighting Case

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SANFORD — A Lee County man who is accused of running a dog fighting ring testified on his own behalf Wednesday.

During cross-examination, Gaston Williamson admitted that dog fighting have taken place on his property.

"I assume they had, because sometimes things happen when you are not there," he testified.

Williamson also appeared to contradict an earlier statement that he carefully screened people who bought his dogs to ensure they would not end up as fighters. He talked about how he traded two dogs to a stranger for two pounds of pot:

"If I could trade two dogs for two pounds of marijuana, that's a good deal," Williamson said.

Deputies arrested Williamson in March after they raided his property and found stolen guns, two pounds of marijuana, and what appeared to be the makings of a dog-fighting facility, complete with a dog-fighting ring.

The first witness called explained how his brother sold Williamson the land where Williamson keeps his dogs. The witness added that his brother had used a shed on the property for dog fights. He did not say that Williamson staged dog fights there.

A veterinarian testified that he has visited the property and noticed nothing out of the ordinary, saying the dogs appeared to be well-cared for.

A friend of Williamson, who described himself as a pit bull enthusiast, testified that bite sticks similar to the blood-stained ones found on Williamson's property are commonly used by people who own pit bull but who do not let their dogs fight.

"With a pit bull, it's probably the best way to take them loose. Once they hold on, it's pretty hard. You don't want to get your hands down there. You basically take them by the scruff of the neck, put the stick in their teeth and work it out so you can (make them let go)," said Ralph Mebly.

The prosecution revealed that Williamson put out an ad in a magazine for dog fighting, advertising that he had dogs for sale. And they also revealed that the bite sticks were all found in a shed that authorities believe was used for dog fighting.


Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julian King, Web Editor

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