E. Feliciana man found not guilty in theft of trooper’s dog

An East Feliciana Parish man accused of stealing a state trooper’s mastiff last year was found not guilty Tuesday following a bench trial.

Judge Michael Carmichael, of the 20th Judicial District, found Kyle Holmes not guilty Tuesday of misdemeanor theft after he was accused of stealing the dog out of a state trooper’s yard.

“Kyle Holmes from day one maintained his innocence,” said Robert Marionneaux, Holmes’ attorney, in a news release. “It’s a terrible thing to see an innocent person harassed by people with badges.”

Holmes, an employee of the ExxonMobil facility in Baton Rouge, tried to find the owner of a malnourished stray dog that appeared on his door steps on April 29, Marionneaux wrote.

Holmes said he contacted neighbors, a local veterinary clinic and posted on Facebook to find the dog’s owner.

Before leaving on an extended vacation, Holmes gave the dog to a friend in Livingston Parish on May 2, Marionneaux wrote. When he got back, he learned he was charged with felony animal theft.

Three days after his return from vacation, State Police Trooper Tommy Lea left a message on Holmes’ work cellular voice mail that said he stole the dog out of Lea’s fence, Marioneaux wrote.

The voice mail message said Holmes had a certain amount of days to return the dog or “Your ass is going to jail for felony theft and you can kiss your Exxon job goodbye,” Marionneaux wrote.

Although offered a plea deal, Marionneaux said, Holmes refused to plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit. Marionneaux said Holmes had said throughout that he only tried to help a malnourished dog.

“We presented all the evidence we had and the court determined it was not enough to convict him,” East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said.

Holmes has filed a complaint against Lea with the Louisiana State Police that is pending, as well as a civil lawsuit against Lea and Detective Kevin Garig, of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office, that also is pending.

Capt. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman, said authorities conducted an internal investigation into Lea’s actions that resulted in “appropriate disciplinary action.”

He would not elaborate on what action was taken.

Lea works out of Troop A in Baton Rouge and has been employed with State Police since December 2003, Cain said.