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Man in yellow jumpsuit being escorted down a sidewalk by a guard
From left: Tommie Queen, in yellow prison clothes, walks beside Adams County Courthouse with a law enforcement officer in Natchez, Miss., on Feb. 14, 2022, before appearing before District Court Judge Debra Blackwell that day. He asked for a new trial involving dogfighting charges from 2017 because his former girlfriend, Christina Fuller, confessed to letting a dog loose after four years. Photo by Kayode Crown

Roxie Man Serving 9 Years for Dogfighting Has New Witness, But Denied New Trial

Still hurting and distraught over ending her 15-year relationship with Tommie Queen, Christina Fuller went to the two-acre property at 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie, Miss., on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, to finish moving out. There she sat in the yard outside the house where they had lived with their son, now 12 years old. She lingered for a minute before entering the house to finish packing while he was off at work.

Inside, Fuller walked around, then went to the back room and noticed a tote bag. She opened it and found the clothes of the other woman, Tasia Martin. Queen had fathered a daughter with her. “What in the world?” Fuller busted out. “I have hardly moved out. So how would her things be here this fast?”

She looked outside the bathroom window and saw the $5,000 pitbull dog Queen had recently bought from New Mexico.

“Well, this is a way to hurt him, by releasing the dog,” Fuller told herself as she stood alone in the house.

Christina Fuller (right) says she loosed a pit bull at Tommie Queen’s 29-1/2 Miracle Road home in Roxie, Miss., on Nov. 6, 2017. The dog attacked another dog, and she left the scene and called 911, saying that dogs were fighting in the compound. Her mother stands beside her in front of the Adams County Courthouse on Feb. 14, 2022. Photo by Kayode Crown

Fuller went to the backdoor to turn the pit bull loose. In the process, the dog’s chain wrapped around her ankle. After Fuller released her ankle from the chain, she expected the dog to run off as she envisioned. It didn’t. Instead, it went and attacked another dog. 

Fuller left the scene and went to her cousin’s house, called 911 and told the receptionist, “Dogs are fighting out there on 29-1/2 Miracle Road.”

Queen: First Dog at Age 7

Tommie Queen, now 36, had a whole backyard full of dogs then, all of them pure or mixed pitbulls. He was often not home since he traveled to Waterford Nuclear Power Generating Plant in Louisiana to make a living as a carpenter, working 12 hours a day, every day of the week. Someone else came to feed the dogs.

Queen’s mother, Constance Buie, bought him his first pit bull when he was very young, and she believes that kindled a love for dogs in him. 

“He loved animals. He’s had animals ever since he was like 7 years old, and he’s been collecting dogs ever since,” Queen’s mother told the Mississippi Free Press on Feb. 14, 2022, in front of the Adams County Courthouse in Natchez.

A night view of a very well lit power generation complex
Tommie Queen worked at Waterford Nuclear Power Generating Plant in Louisiana before his arrest for alleged animal cruelty on Nov. 8, 2017. Photo courtesy Entergy Photo courtesy Entergy

“Then after that, his friend started getting theirs, and they started swapping puppies; they were like breeding dogs. So he liked breeding dogs, too.”

Fuller agreed. “He’s the type of person who loved, bred, and sold dogs; that’s what he did,” she said in an interview.

Ruckus on Miracle Road; Sheriff Asks for Funds

After Adams County deputies responded to the 911 call on that November Monday in 2017 about the ruckus on Miracle Road, they reported observing many dogs chained and some of them wounded. 

Deputy Thomas McGinty wrote in a report that he saw four dogs loose from their chains. In another incident report, Deputy Frank Smith said that he witnessed two dogs fighting when he arrived at the scene on Nov. 6, 2017. “One was tied up, and the other was not,” he wrote.

Adams County Deputy Frank Smith was among the deputies that went to 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie, Miss., on Nov. 6, 2017. Photo courtesy Adams County Sheriff’s Department. Photo courtesy Adams County Sheriff Department

“Late the same day, a black female pitbull mix was tied to the rear of a vehicle and got loose and went to another female dog and (attacked) it,” Smith wrote. “Both of the dogs had numerous puncture wounds from the fighting.”

Dr. Robbie Savant, who runs Natchez Veterinary Clinic (404 Liberty Road, Natchez), would eventually euthanize three of the dogs.

The alleged dogfighting was a big story in Natchez.

The next day, at 12:09 a.m, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Natchez Democrat posted a story with this headline: “Suspected dog fighting operation discovered.” After the initial 12:09 a.m. report on Nov. 7, the Natchez Democrat ran another story by 8 a.m. that day titled, “Sheriff: Still looking for alleged dog fighting farm owner.” By 3:19 p.m. that day, the paper ran another story: “UPDATE: The Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help with dogs at suspected dog-fighting farm.”

“If people could give us funds and some supplies, we could use inmate labor to build a temporary facility to house these dogs,” the newspaper quoted Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten as saying in the 3:19 p.m. report. “If someone would step up and donate some 2x4s, some concrete and some fencing, we could make something.”

“We need the funds,” Patten added. “We need to take care of these dogs.” A GoFundMe started Wednesday, Nov. 8, after the sheriff’s appeal raised over $26,415 that same day from 661 people. 

‘Someone is Going to Jail for This’

At 4:10 p.m. on Tuesday, the Natchez Democrat reported an update after its 3:19 p.m. report earlier: “Law enforcement officials confirmed midday Tuesday that more than 56 wounded and hungry dogs were discovered at suspected dog-fighting farm after an anonymous tip warned of a possible dog-fighting ring,” the newspaper said in the first paragraph of the story. 

Adams County Deputy Thomas McGinty and two other deputies responded to a 911 call about dogs fighting at 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie, Miss., on Nov. 6, 2017. Photo courtesy Adams County Sheriff Department

The newspaper reported that while Sheriff Patten was on Queen’s property that Tuesday, he said, “Someone is going to jail for this,”  

“We’re hoping to rid our community of it, but the reality is that until state laws become more effective, the problem is going to continue,” the newspaper continued, quoting Patten.  “If you have 57 dogs, and we can only charge you with one count of animal cruelty, you have a problem with the laws.”

The office issued a warrant for Tommie Queen’s arrest that evening on Nov. 7, 2017, for aggravated animal cruelty, the newspaper continued.

Under the relevant statute, aggravated animal cruelty perpetrators may receive a fine up to a maximum of $2,500, or they may receive up to six months in prison, or both. Queen turned himself in to law enforcement the next day, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. The Natchez Democrat wrote that Queen “has maintained that he has no knowledge of the dogfighting farm.”

KNOE TV in Monroe, La., reported the story 16 minutes later that day. Law-enforcement officials booked Queen on an animal-cruelty charge, a misdemeanor, and not dogfighting, a felony. “That charge is listed as malicious on the Adams County Jail website, which makes it a felony on second and subsequent offenses,” KNOE.com reported. “Under Mississippi law, multiple instances of such crimes are considered to be a single offense if they are considered to have happened at the same time.”

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said in 2017 that the animal-cruelty laws in Mississippi were weak. Photo courtesy Adams County Sheriff Department

“Though Queen has not been charged with dogfighting at this time, authorities say this investigation began with allegations of dogfighting,” the news continued. “Under Mississippi law, taking part in a dog fight is a felony. This includes sponsoring a fight, betting on a fight, or even just watching a fight.”

In 2017, dogfighting attracted between one to three years in prison, a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, or both fine and imprisonment. The law at the time defined four elements of dogfighting. One: sponsor, promote, stage or conduct a dog fight. Two: advocate or promote the wagering or betting of money or other valuable things on the fight or its outcome. Three: own a dog and intend to enter it or to participate in a dog fight. Four: train or transport a dog to participate in a fight.

A green newspaper stand for The Nachez Democrat, beside blue mailboxes
In this photo taken on Feb. 14, 2022, a stand in front of the Adams County Courthouse in Natchez contains copies of a recent edition of the Natchez Democrat available for purchase. Photo by Kayode Crown

Law enforcement officials later updated Queen’s charges to 50 counts of felony dogfighting, one count for each dog found in Queen’s compound, Major Jerry Brown of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office said on Nov. 9, 2017, the Natchez Democrat reported. 

Because dogfighting at the time carried a maximum prison sentence of three years per count, Queen was facing a sentence of up to 150 years in jail if indicted on all those counts. “This is major, and it’s being treated as such,” Sheriff Patten said.

 “Queen was previously charged with one count of cruelty to animals, (but) that charge was updated Thursday as more evidence was collected by the sheriff’s office,” the article continued.

The newspaper did not include any evidence that required such an upgrade. Queen secured his release that Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, with a $60,000 bond.

Closed-Door Strategy Meeting to Change State Law

On Nov. 13, 2017, one week after Deputy McGinty assessed the scene on Miracle Road  following Fuller’s call, Adams County and Natchez public officials met in a closed-door meeting to strategize about changing the state’s dogfighting and animal-cruelty laws. Then-Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell called the meeting. Dan M. Gibson replaced Grennell as mayor in 2020. 

Then-Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, told those gathered that he wanted to pass a strong law, as he had done before. In 2011, he sponsored a bill that added cats to the state’s animal-cruelty law, which only covered pet dogs at the time. 

“This time around, Dearing said he wants to pass something stronger, and he said he thinks the case in Natchez could be the incentive to make it happen,” the Natchez Democrat reported.

Veterinarian Dr. Robbie Savant, who owns Natchez Veterinary Clinic at 404 Liberty Road in Natchez, worked with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to take care of some of the injured dogs taken from 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie, Miss., in 2017. Photo courtesy Natchez Veterinary Clinic

Instead of a maximum $5,000 fine for dogfighting, Dearing wanted to push for a maximum $50,000 fine, and instead of a maximum of three years in a state penitentiary, he called for a minimum five-year sentence and a maximum of 10 years.

Then-Sen. Dearing went to work on increasing the penalty for dogfighting in the 2018 legislative session. Senate Bill 2932 increased the maximum prison term from three to five years. A repeat offender gets a $5,000 to $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of three to 10 years. The stiffer penalties went into effect July 1, 2018, but did not apply to Queen, whose offense predated the new law. Twenty-one other Mississippi state senators joined as the bill’s co-sponsors. 

Dearing died in 2020 at age 85, after retiring in 2019. His district covered Adams, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties in southwestern Mississippi.

When pushing for the stronger law, Dearing pointed to the Roxie case. “It all began with the big dogfight bust here in Adams County. Seeing the pictures was very disheartening,” The Natchez Democrat quoted Dearing in an August 2018 report. “… I grew concerned and began looking into the laws that we had at the time. Our laws were some of the weakest in the country.”

Indictment In August 2019

Roxie, Miss., which a Confederate veteran founded in 1886, is a rural town in Franklin County of about 500 people, located 23 miles from Natchez, the county seat of Adams County. Both towns are part of the Mississippi 6th Judicial District that covers Adams, Amite, Franklin and Wilkinson counties and contains a population of 58,000 people over 2,475 square miles.

Richard Wright, the famed Black writer of “Native Son,” “Black Boy” and other classics, was born on a plantation near Roxie and Natchez. The area’s other best-known citizen is now probably former Klansman James Ford Seale, who along with Charles Marcus Edwards, kidnapped and murdered two young Black men, Henry Dee and Charles Moore, in 1964 and dumped their bodies into an offshoot of the Mississippi River.

Seale lived in Franklin County untouched for 43 years even though the FBI had handed a strong case over to the local district attorney in the 1960s, who briefly arrested the white men but would not prosecute them. Years after The Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger had reported Seale dead, a team of journalists from the Jackson Free Press and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. traveling with Moore’s brother, Thomas Moore, discovered he was still living in a trailer across from the Roxie gas station next to his brother’s home. That investigation led then-U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton to reopen the case, leading to his conviction. Seale died in a federal prison in Indiana in 2011.

Then-Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez, Miss., sponsored Senate Bill 2932 in 2018, which successfully increased the penalty for dogfighting in Mississippi. He died in 2020. Photo courtesy Mississippi Legislature

A half-century after Dee and Moore’s execution, Tommie Queen suddenly found himself going from one animal cruelty misdemeanor when he turned himself in on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 to facing 50 felony dogfighting charges on Nov. 9, 2017, even though no person was harmed when Fuller let the pit bill outside. Those 50 felonies could have brought him 150 years in prison. 

But when the Adams County District Attorney’s office presented the case to the grand jury in August 2019, there were only nine and not 50 dogfighting felonies on the charge sheet. 

A grand jury is usually impaneled to return indictments. Their decision will determine if the district attorney takes an alleged offender to trial or not and on what charges.

On Aug. 12, 2019, the grand jury returned guilty verdicts against Tommie Queen on nine counts of “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously (owning) a dog with the intent to wilfully enter it or to participate it in a fight or to train a dog, specifically a dog labeled as (fill in dog color and type) for the purposes of participating in a fight or fighting match between dogs.”

Queen was then facing up to 27 years in prison.

‘What Did You Decide About the Plea?’

Tommie Queen’s arraignment took place in September 2019 before Adams County Circuit Court Judge Debra W. Blackwell. An arraignment, which takes place after indictments and before the trial, is for the formal presentation of the charges to the alleged offender before the judge. It is also a time when plea deals often happen.

“Mr. Queen, have they talked to you about a plea?” Adams County Circuit Court Judge Debra W. Blackwell asked then-33-year-old Tommie Queen in September 2019 during his arraignment proceeding as he faced nine counts of felony dogfighting. 

Adams County District Court Judge Debra Blackwell asked Tommie Queen in September 2019 if he has accepted or rejected a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office. Queen rejected the plea bargain that would have resulted in a one-year suspended sentence for nine counts of dogfighting. Photo courtesy Debra Blackwell

“They” referred to the 6th District Attorney’s office charging Queen with dogfighting at his two-acre property at 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie on Nov. 6, 2017. 

“Yes, ma’am,” the 5-foot-10-inch Queen said in response to Blackwell’s query about making a deal with the district attorney’s office.

“What did you decide about the plea?” Blackwell asked.

 “Your honor, the plea sounds good only for a person who did something (wrong), but because I didn’t do anything (wrong), I cannot take a plea—before I take a plea, I’m going to go to trial,” Queen replied.

The judge explained to Queen the implication of rejecting the plea deal and choosing to face trial and asked if Queen was ready to take that kind of gamble with his freedom.

“So, Mr. Queen, if you go to trial, you know you’ve got nine counts, you’ll be facing 27 years,” the judge impressed on Queen, testing his resolve.   

“Yes, ma’am,” Queen replied, remaining firm in his resolve.

In the Adams County Courthouse, Tommie Queen stood before Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell in November 2019 at his trial for nine counts of dogfighting. Photo by Kayode Crown

“If you go to trial and you win, you are a free man. You are free to go. But if you go to trial and you lose, you do have the right to appeal,” Judge Blackwell continued.

“Yes, ma’am,” Queen replied.

“What do you decide to do?” the judge asked again.

“Ma’am, I’m going to trial,” Queen replied.

Trial in November 2019

After Queen rejected a plea deal at his initial appearance before Judge Blackwell on Sept. 11, 2019, he faced trial on Nov. 6 and Nov. 7, 2019.

“Mr. Stevenson, do you have a motion?” Judge Blackwell asked Queen’s lawyer at the time, Damon Stevenson, during the trial on Nov. 7. 2019, the transcript of the proceedings the Mississippi Free Press obtained indicated.

Stevenson said he did have a motion. The attorney said that the State, which had presented its witnesses, did not prove that Queen owned a dog with the intent to willfully enter it into a fight.

Attorney Damon Stevenson
Attorney Damon Stevenson (pictured) defended Tommie Queen at his trial at the Adams County Circuit Court in November 2019. Photo courtesy Damon Stevenson

“The statute requires this is a specific-intent crime,” he explained. “There is no evidence of intent before this Court to participate in a fight.” 

“Just because the dogs were in a fight, that is not enough, Your Honor,” Queen’s attorney added.

“I submit to you that that evidence is not before the Court, so at this time, we would move for a directed verdict.”

In the motion for directed verdict, the defense attorney was asking the judge to throw out the case against his client on the argument that the prosecution has not proved its case after calling all its witnesses. 

Judge Blackwell rejected the defense’s motion for a directed verdict, by first noting what the State’s witnesses said. 

The judge said that Adams County Sheriff Deputy Thomas McGinty went to 29-1/2 Miracle Road on Nov. 6, 2017. He saw multiple dogs tied up, and he called for backup, feeling that it was not a safe environment for him to be. Officer Stephen Karabelen, whose job was to maintain the crime scene’s integrity, also testified.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office Major Jerry Brown
Adams County Sheriff’s Office Major Jerry Brown told the Natchez Democrat on Nov. 9, 2017, that the office had updated the charges against Tommie Queen from aggravated animal cruelty to 50 counts of felony dogfighting. Screenshot courtesy WLBT

Judge Blackwell continued, saying that the evidence technician, Deputy Carla Dunn, testified that she “was called to a possible dog-fighting scene where dogs were badly injured.”

Dunn collected dog chains, bite sticks and medication.

Blackwell said that Dunn testified that there were other dogs chained to thick chains in a circular pattern behind the house, with a small dog in the center, and some dogs had such severe injuries that some were euthanized.

Judge Blackwell said that American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regional Director Kyle Held had testified that the injuries of the nine dogs listed in the indictment were consistent with dogfighting in his expert opinion. She added that Dr. Robbie Savant testified to examining the nine dogs with significant injuries, some of which were euthanized. He said his expert opinion as a veterinarian was that the injuries were consistent with dogfighting.

“Part of the statute that the Defendant is indicted under is that he owned a dog with intent to willfully enter it or participate it in a fight or train a dog for the purposes of participation in a fight,” Blackwell continued. “At this point, the Court finds that the evidence shows that a reasonable person could find that Mr. Queen was guilty of the crime for which he is charged. So, therefore, the Motion for Directed Verdict, made pursuant to Rule 21 of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure is hereby denied.

Queen’s Neighbor Testifies

After Judge Blackwell refused the motion for a directed verdict to dismiss Queen’s charges, the defense called David Mark Floyd, Queen’s neighbor, and only him, to the stand. 

At that time, Floyd had lived at 31 Miracle Road in Roxie since 2010, 50 yards from Queen’s house, and there was no home between the two properties. 

“Can you see where the dogs are housed on that property?” Stevenson asked. 

“Yes,” Floyd answered.

Darryle Grennell
Then-Natchez Mayor Darryle Grennell hosted a closed-door meeting on Nov. 13, 2017, to strategize on increasing the penalty for dogfighting and animal cruelty in Mississippi. Photo courtesy City of Natchez

“Have you ever seen any evidence of organized dog fighting on that property?” Stevenson questioned.

Floyd replied, “No.”

“Is there anybody else who would have a better view of Tommie Queen’s property than yourself?” Stevenson queried. 

“Nobody that I know of,” Floyd replied.

The witness explained that somebody would come in and feed the dogs while Queen was away, “like every evening or every morning.” 

At the trial, then-6th District Attorney Ronnie Harper refused to characterize the evidence against Queen as circumstantial.

“I do not think this is a circumstantial case; that is our position,” Harper told the judge. “We think there is evidence—primarily through Investigator (Kyle) Held—as to what was present out there and what constitutes this type of training ground that would make this not a circumstantial case; at least, that is our position.”

Attorney Stevenson shared a different opinion: “I believe the case law is that whenever there is not a direct witness to the offense or a confession, it is circumstantial evidence, as is such in this case.”

About 4 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2019, the jury began deliberating.

Constance Buie and Marcus Buie
Tommie Queen’s mother, Constance Buie, stands with Queen’s stepfather, Marcus Buie, with the couple’s granddaughter. They said that Adams County Circuit Judge Debra Blackwell was wrong when she refused to grant Queen’s retrial motion. Photo by Kayode Crown

After about over three hours, the jury returned and say they found Queen not guilty on counts one to six but guilty on counts seven to nine. 

After the jury reached a verdict, attorney Stevenson drew the judge’s attention to the fact that Queen had no prior felonies and asked that she weigh that in her sentencing.

At about 8:45 p.m. that day, Blackwell sentenced Queen to nine years in jail, three years for each count, “which is the maximum penalty for that offense,” she added. 

Queen Maintains Innocence 

Tommie Queen appealed the verdict to the Mississippi Supreme Court with attorney Stevenson arguing that Blackwell erred by not recusing herself from the case because she was an assistant district attorney when the alleged crime occurred.

He also said the evidence was insufficient to convict Queen and that Blackwell erred in admitting Held as a dogfighting crime expert. The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected that and all of Stevenson’s arguments and affirmed the verdict.  

“Held testified that he had investigated hundreds of dog-fighting cases over his career and that his duties included medical evaluations of the dogs,” the Supreme Court stated. 

“Judge Blackwell denied Queen’s motion to recuse on the grounds that she had not participated in Queen’s case in any way, either indirectly or directly,” the Mississippi Supreme Court wrote. “She stated that she had not seen Queen’s case file, had no knowledge of the case, and had not performed any work whatsoever on the case.”

Tommie Queen
In this back-view photo, Tommie Queen (left) walks around the Adams County Courthouse with a law enforcement officer on Feb. 14, 2022. Photo by Kayode Crown

As an assistant district attorney, Judge Blackwell said her work covered Amite and Franklin counties and not so much about Adams County cases. “After qualifying to run for circuit court judge, she said that she took specific steps to prevent any potential conflict from arising if she won the election,” the Supreme Court added. 

The Court also said that “viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.”

Queen told the Mississippi Free Press in February 2022, by phone from Jefferson-Franklin County Regional Correctional Facility, in Fayette, Miss., that “if I was guilty of what they say I am guilty of, I would have taken that one-year paper time (plea) and be done.” 

“One-year paper time” means Queen, in a plea deal, would have one year of suspended jail time for the alleged crime. “I would have had that one-year paper time and be done,” Queen repeated. “I would not have spent one day in jail.”

“I could have had my record expunged,” he added. “I didn’t worry about that because I know that I am right.”

“So that is the reason why I will fight for my rights instead of letting my rights get thrown away,” a defiant Queen continued on the phone.

Jenny Flores
Jenny Flores, executive director of the Paul & Silas Freedom Project, said she used to think Tommie Queen was a bad person from newspaper reports. Photo by Kayode Crown

Queen explained that he had not been at home most of the time because he worked at the nuclear-power plant in Louisiana. He was a carpenter. 

Paul & Silas Freedom Project Executive Director Jenny Flores told the Mississippi Free Press by phone in February 2022 that she previously believed Queen was evil, but changed her mind when she dug deeper into the case. Her nonprofit works with incarcerated people and their families.

“When I read these newspaper articles the first time, I thought, ‘Well, this guy is a monster.'” 

“But the more that you dig into it, I mean, there’s just so much wrong,” she added. “He wasn’t even home, and we have a letter from his employer (showing) that he was at work.” 

Fuller’s Confession; Asking for a New Trial

On Feb. 14, 2022, Christina Fuller, wearing a red hoodie, appeared before Judge Debra W. Blackwell at the Adams County Courthouse and explained to her that she was the cause of Queen’s trouble. Attorney Michael Windfield, representing Queen, presented her to the judge as he sought a motion for a new trial. 

Queen was also in court that day, transported 29 miles from Jefferson-Franklin County Regional Correctional Facility in Jefferson County. Queen wore a yellow jumpsuit and white sneakers. Queen’s relatives were in the courtroom in show of support. 

Fuller explained to Judge Blackwell that she released a dog on Nov. 6, 2017, at 29-1/2 Miracle Road and subsequently called 911, leading to a cascade of events that ended up with Queen in prison. She explained that she had not told anyone until later in 2021. She also stated that there was never any dogfighting on the property during her time with Queen.

Fuller told the Mississippi Free Press on Feb. 14, 2022, that she and Queen lived on the property for seven years out of their 15-year relationship. “No dogfighting, period. None whatsoever,” she said when asked if there had been dogfighting on the property.

Jefferson-Franklin County Regional Correctional Facility
Tommie Queen is at Jefferson-Franklin County Regional Correctional Facility in Fayette, Miss., serving a nine-year sentence after a jury found him guilty of three counts of dogfighting in November 2019. Photo courtesy Google Maps

Fuller explained that she only came forward with the confession of what she did that evening on Nov. 6, 2017, including calling 911, because she was distraught over the pain of seeing Queen absent from his son’s life.

“It’s been painful. I’ve been suffering for four years. I’ve been holding it for four years,” she told the Mississippi Free Press. “I let the family know last year that I’ve been having sleepless nights, waking up every day seeing that my son was not with his dad; things that he was missing out on doing for my son.”

“Every night, (my son) would be crying,” she added. “And I already know what’s going on with him, because the last time he saw him, he said, ‘I miss my dad.'”

But that day, Judge Blackwell said various items found in Queen’s house weighed against him. 

The judge mentioned a 200-pound chain, IV bags, bite sticks and pictures of bones of dead dogs. She also mentioned the expert testimony of the compound set up for housing as well as “training and fighting dogs,” she added during her ruling. 

Blackwell said no one had offered a counter explanation for the presence of those items to contradict expert statements about their use in dogfighting.

Christina Fuller, Yolanda Wallace and attorney Michael Winfield
From left: Tommie Queen’s former girlfriend Christina Fuller, his sister, Yolanda Wallace and attorney Michael Winfield stand in front of the Adams County Courthouse, Natchez, Miss., on Feb. 14, 2022. Photo by Kayode Crown

Queen’s stepfather Marcus Buie told the Mississippi Free Press on Feb. 14, 2022, that bite sticks are for breaking up fighting dogs and big chains prevent dogs from breaking loose.

“You really got to have a good chain on a dog; if they keep breaking loose, they’re going to fight, and it’s just a whole lot of stuff that (the judge) is not looking at, or she’s going about it wrong,” Marcus Buie said. 

Queen’s mother explained that it was not logistically possible for her son to be fighting dogs in view of his work schedule.”He had a good job working at a nuclear plant. Who will give up their job (to be) fighting dogs? No one,” she said. 

Fuller explained that Queen set up the dogs to create space between them while at the same time allowing them to move around. “(The judge) tried to explain that the yard (was set up for) fighting dogs. No, that’s not how it goes,” Fuller told the Mississippi Free Press. “He had so many dogs; he had to space them out, so they would not attack one another. So no one gets hurt.”

Judge Blackwell, however, said the previous lawyer should have interviewed Fuller for the trial in 2019 and that her testimony was discoverable at that time. She denied the motion for a new trial. 

Family Say Judge Is ‘Wrong’

Constance Buie, Queen’s mother, frowns at the fact that her son will continue to be in jail even after Fuller’s confession. “They are doing it wrong because he’s an innocent man,” she said after the judge ruled against a new trial in February. “Like everybody knows, everybody knows that he doesn’t dog fight. He doesn’t dog fight.

Tasia Martin and daughter
While Christina Fuller was still sharing a house with Tommie Queen, he fathered a daughter with Tasia Martin (pictured). Martin and her daughter wore “Free Tommie Queen” shirts on Feb. 14, 2022, when the mother of her son confessed to her role in events that landed him in prison. Photo by Kayode Crown

“They have got their minds made up on what they want. They only want to keep the Black man locked up,” Constance Buie added. “So they are actually just doing him wrong. They just want to throw him under the bus.”

Attorney Winfield said Fuller’s testimony was compelling enough to “totally exonerate” Queen. 

“We do maintain and feel that he was wrongfully convicted,” Windfield added. 

On Feb. 18, 2022, the Mississippi Free Press requested the 911 recording from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office from the night of Nov. 6, 2017. Chancery Clerk Bradi Lewis replied on Feb. 23, 2022. “After consulting with our attorney I was informed that recordings, such as the one you requested, may not be produced without a subpoena,” she replied. 

Marcus Buie
Tommie Queen’s stepfather, Marcus Buie, said that huge chains keep dogs from escaping, but Judge Debra Blackwell believed they were dogfighter paraphernalia. Photo by Kayode Crown

Mississippi Ethics Commission Assistant Director Jose Simo told the Mississippi Free Press by phone on March 9, 2022, that what the clerk said was correct because 911 recordings may contain private information. “911 recordings, I guess they are considered a public record, but they’re confidential, and they’re not to be turned over unless there is a court order, there’s a subpoena or a court order that comes from a court. And that way the law enforcement agency can release it, but it’s really up to the judge,” he said.  

The Mississippi Free Press requested the body-camera recording for that day in an email to the Adams County Chancery Clerk on March 3, 2022, after the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Office directed this reporter there. A representative of the clerk told this reporter on March 9 that the chancery clerk is waiting for guidance from “our attorney,” she said. She has not contacted the Mississippi Free Press since then. 

The Mississippi Ethics Commission assistant director Simo, however, told the Mississippi Free Press that the law enforcement agency can release body-camera recordings. “And it’s really up to the law-enforcement agency to determine whether to give those records to the requester, because a lot of times, again, it contains people in the background or sensitive information that’s not relevant to the issue that the requester might want to be dealing with,” the assistant director said. 

“So that’s really under the discretion of the law-enforcement agency or the public body.”

Michael Winfield
Attorney Michael Winfield said Adams County Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell was wrong to wave aside Christina Fuller’s confession of letting loose a dog at 29-1/2 Miracle Road in Roxie, Miss., and then calling 911. Photo by Kayode Crown

In his interview with the Mississippi Free Press, Queen expressed amazement that despite Fuller’s claim that she only released one dog, there were photographs of other injured canines on the site.

“I want to see the police body camera when (law enforcement officials) arrived in my house,” Queen added. “They said that two dogs broke loose when they were there, so the two dogs broke loose, and she turned one dog loose. That should be three or four dogs.”

“It’s not as it’s being said,” Fuller said adamantly. “No, he never fought a dog. He never attempted to do any kind of dogfighting, period.”

 

 

 

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