The Elephant in the Courtroom

The future of Nosey, the seized circus elephant, is still up in the air after Lawrence County District Judge Angela Terry said she will review over 30 pages of notes before making a verdict.
The hearing to determine whether or not Nosey, a 35-year-old female African elephant will be returned to her owner, showman Hugo Liebel, lasted from 9 a.m. until approximately 7 p.m. with only a few short breaks in between.
Lawrence County Animal Control Officer, Kimberly Carpenter, was the first of the witnesses called by Assistant District Attorney Callie Waldrep. Carpenter was asked about the circumstances surrounding the seizure of the elephant. She explained that she received several complaints about the elephant’s condition before making the descision to take the animal.
The second and final witness called by the state was Dr. Lydia Young the resident veterinarian at The Elephant Sanctuary. Young was deemed an elephant expert due to her years of working with the animals in Thailand and other parts of the world. She said Nosey showed signs of a deep skin infection and muskuloskeletal disease.
“Nosey was the most severe build-up of hypercaratosis I’ve ever observed,” Young said. “In my opinion, Nosey needs daily veterinary care.”
Liebel was represented by Tuscumbia attorney Billy Underwood. The first witness the defense called was Dr. Mark Wilson, a Florida veterinarian who said he worked in zoos since he was 12-years-old. His testimony was contradictory to the evidence provided by the state. Wilson said the elephant was mostly healthy other than the skin condition and alluded that the sanctuary was not caring for Nosey properly, citing a broken tusk and weight gain.
Other witnesses called by the defense were animal exhibitor Franklin Murray and Mickey Grimes. Both were only asked a few short questions.
The final witness was Hugo Leibel himself.
“I would take her home, love her,” Liebel replied when asked what he would do with Nosey. “You will not catch me in lie for billion dollars.”
Underwood said to reporters he feels like the case will be lost, however, he plans to appeal and said Lawrence County could face a million-dollar lawsuit for wrongful seizure sometime next year.
“I think we may lose in district court, but we will win in front of 12 Lawrence County jurors,” Underwood said.
He said if he wins, the county could be looking at a large bill.
The full story will be in next week’s issue.

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