Judge orders affidavit to see how evidence was destroyed in dogfighting case
Officials inadvertently destroyed a recording that could have been used as evidence against the Ypsilanti Township man accused of selling dogs for the purpose of fighting.
A recording of Gayland Tomlin, 28, allegedly trying to sell ‘dogfighting’ puppies to an undercover Humane Society officer in February was ruined in the process of trying to enhance the sound quality, it was revealed during a motion hearing in the Washtenaw County Trial Court Monday.
Since the prosecution can’t provide the evidence - a necessary step in the discovery phase leading up to the trial, which is set for September - Tomlin’s public defender Stephen Adams made a motion to dismiss the case.
Judge Melinda Morris, however, neither granted nor denied the motion. She instead ordered a 14-day adjournment so the Humane Society officer responsible for the recording can write an affidavit to see how the mishap occurred.
There is a discrepancy over which agency should have been given the recording. Whereas the prosecution and defense thought the officer was going to give it to someone at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, the officer instead gave it to an information technology specialist at the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
“It may have been a miscommunication between myself and the officer,” said Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Paul Barnett, who explained he had an informal conversation with the officer in passing and thought he instructed her to send the “illegible recording” to the sheriff’s office.
But instead, it was given to the IT specialist and destroyed at an indeterminate time, according to both the prosecution and defense.
Barnett said losing the recording was “regrettable,” but that they have other evidence to use against Tomlin, including eyewitness testimony.
Undercover officers from the Humane Society and the sheriff’s office made contact with Tomlin via Facebook last winter. The officers went to Tomlin’s home in the 1300 block of Nash Avenue in Ypsilanti Township and purchased a pit bull puppy, cruelty investigator Elise Ramsey testified at a preliminary examination in May.
At that time, Tomlin allegedly attempted to demonstrate the dog’s fighting ability for Ramsey and an undercover deputy from the sheriff’s office. Authorities serving a search warrant in February found two dogs - one of which was the mother of the puppy Tomlin allegedly attempted to sell the undercover officers - which were so aggressive they needed to be euthanized. The puppy and its sibling have since been given new homes through adoption.
Morris agreed there was "other evidence of this crime," but ordered the affidavit to see exactly what became of the recording.