PLATTSMOUTH – More than two dozen defendants appeared in Cass County Court Tuesday afternoon after they were allegedly involved in an illegal cockfighting operation south of Louisville.
Thirty-two people took part in initial court hearings three days after they were arrested at a farmstead at 11317 Highway 50. All of the defendants were charged with Class IIIA felonies of spectator at an animal fight.
Cass County Attorney Colin Palm told The Journal Tuesday afternoon that he had never seen a case that involved the current set of circumstances. Cass County Attorney’s Office staff spent the entire morning filing criminal informations and briefs for each of the 32 people allegedly involved in the crime.
“It’s very unusual,” Palm said. “I’ve never had a case where charges have been filed against this many co-defendants at the same time. These types of charges also don’t come up very often. It’s definitely unusual from a number of standpoints.”
The Nebraska Humane Society received an anonymous tip from a local resident Saturday morning that cockfighting would be taking place at the Highway 50 location that day. Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies went to the residence and saw many cars at the property. Numerous people fled a barn when authorities arrived.
CCSO deputies obtained a search warrant for the property and found 186 live roosters and 11 dead roosters. They also seized a large amount of items used for cockfighting and gambling.
Palm said he met with multiple law enforcement officials Tuesday morning to discuss the incident. He said they provided many details about the case and gave him eyewitness testimony that will be used in court. CCSO deputies, Nebraska Humane Society officials and Plattsmouth police officers were all present at the scene.
The original Cass County Court docket for Tuesday had been scheduled to end with 2 p.m. cases. Prosecutors were able to add the new cockfighting cases to the docket. Defendants began appearing in court at 2:30 p.m.
Many of the cases will likely advance to Cass County District Court because of the felony nature of the charges. Other defendants could reach plea settlements with prosecutors before that happens.
“Every case is different and will run at different speeds,” Palm said. “Some will reach plea agreements sooner than others, and some might not reach plea agreements at all. It all depends on how each individual case plays out.”
Many defendants will have court-appointed attorneys to represent them during their cases. Many will also require the assistance of court-appointed interpreters to translate from English to Spanish.