The August 20 trial date for three men accused of killing a 13-foot American alligator illegally on private property in June 2011 in Leon County will likely be delayed, according to Leon County Attorney Jim Witt of Centerville.
Witt said Friday that a trial date for the 13-month-old case was set about two weeks ago. However, attorney J. Keith Stanley of Houston has since filed a motion for continuance. Witt said Leon County Judge, Byron Ryder, would likely grant the motion.
Sam Lovell of Kennard (right) was cleared of charges in the alleged illegal harvest of two American alligators on the Trinity River in June 2011 Photo: COURTESY SAM LOVELL
Stanley is the attorney on record for one of the three defendants, Ryan Burton of Kennard. Last July, Burton was named in a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department news release as one of three outfitters who guided clients to an 880-pound alligator along a remote stretch of the Trinity River on June 11, 2011, and a smaller gator the day before.
The release named Dallas attorney Levi McCathern as the shooter of the big alligator. Also named were guides Steve Barclay and Sam Lovell, both of Kennard.
TPWD game wardens charged the four men with taking wildlife on private property without landowner consent.
Charges were dropped against Lovell a few weeks later after further investigation determined that he (Lovell) was working in Michigan at the time the offenses allegedly took place.
Two TPWD Non-Consent Affidavits obtained through an open records request to the Leon County Clerks office name Michael Brown as the landowner who filed the complaints against Lovell. The affidavits, both sworn under oath, describe the property in question as "Brown Farm" in Leon County.
Both affidavits signed by Brown on June 24, 2011 state: "Sam Lovell did not have permission or consent to hunt, fish, enter on the above described property on or about 6-11-11 and 6-10-11. It is my wish that criminal charges be filed against the above named person (Sam Lovell). I am aware that I may be called upon to testify in court." The documents are signed by Leon County game warden, Oscar Henson.
Barclay claims that he and Lovell had verbal permission to take clients hunting alligators and hogs on Browns property, and that they had done so several times prior to last June with no issues.
Barclay, Burton, and McCathern have entered not guilty pleas in the case.
Taking wildlife on private property without landowner consent is Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the men could face fines up to $4,000, up to one year in jail or both, and more than $5,000 restitution fees for the two alligators.
Witt said Ryder plans to have a conference phone call between the attorneys so an agreed trial date can be set. --Matt Williams
Potential State Record Gar Filleted Before Weighed
A man who arrowed a potential new state record alligator gar in Lake Corpus Christi filleted the giant fish without having it weighed on certified scales, missing out on the record shot.
Bowfisherman Brent Crawford stalked then arrowed the monster gar that weighed more than 300 pounds on non-certified scales.
Crawford shot the 8-foot, 2-inch, leviathan with a 45-pound recurve bow.
Photo: COURTESY BRENT CRAWFORD
The nylon cord attached to the fishing arrow had become tangled at Crawfords feet. When he grabbed the line, it became wrapped around his hand.
The line went taut and the fish yanked the Crawford into the water headfirst. Crawfords dog, Bleux, grabbed him by the cuff of the jeans and a tug-of-war ensued.
Crawford ultimately freed his hand from the cord and stood knee-deep in the shallow canal, gripping his fishing bow.
The gar stole 200 feet of cord in a battle that lasted 45 minutes.
A neighbor arrived with a pistol and dispatched the gar. The men used an ATV to drag the quarry to Crawfords house. They suspended it from a forklift, where it bottomed-out a 300-pound scale.
Google Announces Anti-gun Policy
Google, the internet search engine giant, has chosen to ban search results related to firearms and other products it deems not "family safe" in its Google Shopping function.
Until recently, gun-related products appeared just like other products in search results, giving shoppers a powerful price-comparison tool. But not anymore.
Googles new, anti-gun policy, announced May 31, assigns a "family status" to all products. Products in the "non-family safe" or adult categories are blocked from Google Shopping and include guns, ammunition, knives, vehicles, tobacco, and traffic devices such as radar scramblers.
As of press time, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was attempting to reach Google to urge the company to reconsider the discriminatory policy.
Firearms cannot be purchased online and transferred directly to the purchaser. Purchases must be physically sent from one federal firearms licensee to another, with the latter conducting the mandatory FBI background check on the purchaser (represented in person) and then transfer the firearm only after the purchaser has passed background check.
The companys new, anti-gun policy has rightly caused firearms owners to reconsider having Google be their search engine of choice. According to reports, the search engine Bing.com, for example, currently does not block firearms from appearing in shopping results.
Though Google Shopping works to aid commerce by making it easy to research products and pricing, Googles new policy raises barriers to one of the countrys strongest economic trends--the robust sales of firearms and ammunition, one of the true bright spots in the U.S. economy.
Firearms and ammunition sales are at all-time highs, accounting for a 30.6 percent increase in jobs from 2008 through 2011 and an overall economic impact of nearly $32 billion to the nation.
Googles restrictive policy comes at a time when retailers and other online information resources have increased their content about firearms because of consumer demand.
Z-Man Wins ChatterBait Patent Judgement
A federal judge has ruled that both defendants Renosky Lure, Inc. and Joseph F. Renosky (referred to as "Renosky") infringed a patent of Z-Man Fishing Products, Inc. by selling fishing lures similar to Z-Mans ChatterBait brand bladed swim jigs.
United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel, in an order dated June 15, 2012, ruled Z-Mans patent at issue valid and that Z-Man was entitled to partial summary judgment on its patent infringement claims against Renosky.
"We are extremely pleased with the judges ruling in this case," said Z-Man President Jonathan Zucker. "Watching a competitor blatantly copy our patented lure design has been frustrating, and our hope is that the courts ruling in this case will help deter further copycats."
In 2006, the ChatterBait brand bladed swim jig burst onto the bass fishing scene. To protect the advancements and technology in its lure design, Z-Man obtained two patents, in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010, Renosky began to sell a knock-off lure that was strikingly similar to Z-Mans ChatterBait lure. Z-Man sued Renosky on February 22, 2011, alleging claims of patent infringement, trade dress infringement, interference with prospective advantage, unfair competition, breach of contract, and conversion. Subsequently, Z-Man moved for summary judgment on patent infringement and validity.
In essence, the court rejected Renoskys invalidity arguments and found that Renosky unlawfully infringed Z-Mans patent as a matter of law because Renoskys knock-off lures could not be distinguished, from a patent perspective, from Z-Mans baits. Renosky lost on its argument that the eyelet on the Renosky lure was not "fixed within" the jig head as required by the patent. The court ruled that "fixed within" does not mean "immovable," but instead assigned a broader definition of "to make firm, stable, or stationary in or into the interior." This broad definition helps create a high barrier for those who may attempt a patent "work around" to produce a copycat product.
This court order is the latest in a string of successful enforcement actions either litigated or settled by Z-Man to protect its baits.
Z-Man intends to continue its aggressive policing campaign to actively dissuade other lure companies from violating its well-established intellectual property rights in its ChatterBait product line. Z-Man will litigate as an option, but has resolved many knockoff issues by settling with copycatters on a confidential basis.