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Man arrested on theft, intentional killing of animals charges gets two years probation

John Thompson • Updated Nov 6, 2019 at 6:57 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A man arrested last spring during a public controversy on illegal dumping on Teaberry Road in Roan Mountain pleaded guilty to six of the eight charges in Carter County Criminal Court on Wednesday and received two years of probation.

In the plea agreement, Garrett Brian Birchfield, 26, was facing two felony charges and four misdemeanor charges. He pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of intentional killing of an animal.

He also pleaded guilty on two reduced charges. A theft over $1,000 charge was reduced to theft under $1,000. An aggravated burglary charge was reduced to aggravated criminal trespassing. Those lesser charges reduced the category from a felony to a misdemeanor. Ryan Curtis was the defense attorney in the case. Assistant District Attorney General Michael Rasnake was the prosecutor

Judge Stacy Street sentenced Birchfield to a year’s probation on each conviction and fined him $25 on each count. The sentences on the theft under $1,000 and the aggravated criminal trespassing charges will run concurrently from Nov. 6, 2019, to Nov. 5, 2020. The four intentional killing charges will run concurrently and start after the first probation is completed, running from Nov. 4, 2020, to Nov. 3, 2021.

The two dismissed charges were tampering with evidence and criminal impersonation. Judicial diversion was granted.

Birchfield’s arrest in April came during an investigation into the dumping of recently killed animals at an illegal dump site on Teaberry Road in Roan Mountain.

The investigation began April 1, when a Heaton Ridge Road resident reported to sheriff’s deputies that four dogs and a rifle were missing from her home.

After the deputies took the report, Carter County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Roger Brown was assigned the case.

Brown contacted the woman, and she told him she found some .22-caliber shell casings and what appeared to be pools of blood in her yard; Brown then told her he was on his way to her residence.

When he arrived, the woman told Brown an investigator had just left. She said that investigator had taken the shell casings she had found in the yard, took down the serial number of the missing rifle and took three more of her weapons for “data purposes.”

Brown told the woman the investigators with her at that moment were the only ones working the case.

The woman then pointed out a Ford Crown Victoria parked at a nearby residence, and said that was the car driven by the man who said he was investigating the case. The investigators approached the vehicle and noticed a .22-caliber rifle in the back seat.

The investigators then made contact with Birchfield, and said he denied any knowledge of the incident.

Brown said the investigation continued and Birchfield was developed as a suspect, and was asked to come to the sheriff’s department for an interview.

He said that during the interview, Birchfield admitted forcibly entering the residence on Heaton Ridge Road, removing the dogs and shooting them in the yard. Brown said Birchfield then admitted taking the dogs and disposing of them on Teaberry Road.

Brown said Birchfield told him he then went back to the victim’s home and posed as a law enforcement officer and that he said he collected evidence and firearms from the residence.

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