DINWIDDIE, Va. (WRIC) — A Dinwiddie man convicted on 37 counts of running a dogfighting operation that investigators say involved dozens of pit bulls will spend 10 years behind bars.
Eldridge Freeman Jr., 44, of Dinwiddie County, was sentenced to 108 years in prison with 98 of those years suspended.
Freeman insisted during his trial that he loves his dogs and that he trained them to compete in legitimate pitbull competitions.
The evidence presented in court by Attorney General Mark Herring, however, painted a much different story.
In November 2017, Dinwiddie Sheriff’s deputies seized 26 dogs from Freeman’s property. All of the dogs were heavily chained outside Freeman’s rural home.
A state veterinarian who examined the animals said many of the pit bulls were covered in scars on their heads, chests and front legs. The scars, the veterinarian testified, were consistent with dogfighting.
Detectives also told the jury that they found a dogfighting pit at the defendant’s home and dogfighting paraphernalia. Investigators said the pit had a carpet, a tarp to cover it and what appeared to be blood stains and smears inside.
Freeman also housed the dog an inhumane way, “in plastic barrels, water tanks or plywood whelping boxes, all of which were not insulated and did not have bedding for the animals,” according to the prosecutor.
The prosecution added that investigators also found a video on Freeman’s cellphone of two dogs fighting in his backyard, but the defense insisted Freeman was just borrowing the phone and that the video was not his.