EDINBURG — A lumber yard worker accused of leading a cockfight that he claims was a scientific experiment said Friday that millions of lives could have been saved had deputies allowed him to carry out his work.
But one of those arrested told investigators that cockfights had been hosted at a rural Edinburg warehouse for months and spectators paid $15 at the door to watch the death battles.
Bobby Doyle Jones, 62, stood handcuffed at the Hidalgo County Jail on Friday, accused alongside three others in a cockfighting operation busted by sheriff’s deputies Saturday near Edinburg.
At his arraignment hearing, Jones was asked by Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Bobby Contreras if he had anything to say before the reporters and cameras honed on the hearing.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Jones said. “It was research we were embarking on that could save millions of lives.”
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said investigators have found no merits to Jones’ claims.
“That’s all good and well, but I haven’t seen any documents, any research studies,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything to substantiate that’s his motive.”
State law allows scientific research as a defense against its cockfighting statute, though it’s unclear whether anyone has actually won such a case in court.
For his part, Jones, of Gatesville, said he’d entertain any requests for interviews to explain his research. The Monitor requested an interview and Jones declined. He remains at the Hidalgo County Jail on a $90,000 bond for three felony charges: cruelty to animals, engaging in organized criminal activity and cockfighting.
Jones told jail booking officials that he works in outside sales at a lumber yard in Killeen. A call to his wife, Holly Jones, was not returned Friday afternoon.
Also charged in the case are Genaro Caballero Hinojosa, 43, of Brownsville; San Juan residents Luis Zetina Martinez, 55, and his daughter, Sarahi Heredia Martinez, 18.
All four suspects requested court-appointed attorneys.
Hinojosa told deputies that he found the warehouse about two or three months ago and started having cockfights every Saturday, a criminal complaint states. He said a $15 entry fee was collected at the door and was paid to himself, Jones and Homero Martinez, who remains hospitalized under deputy guard and is set to be charged in the case.
Hinojosa was formally charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, cockfighting and cruelty to animals. Bond was set at $90,000.
Luis Martinez, who told deputies he worked at the venue, sold soft drinks and kept order during the cockfights, was formally charged with engaging in organized criminal activity and cockfighting; bond was set at $40,000.
Sarahi Martinez, whom investigators said worked the door at the cockfight and refused to let deputies inside, was formally charged with cockfighting. Bond was set at $20,000.
Deputies seized cockfighting spurs and other “usual equipment” used in the bird battles, a news release said. They also recovered 21 bird carcasses and 78 live gamecocks that were sent to an animal shelter.
Deputies cited 54 spectators for being at the cockfight — a class C misdemeanor charge that’s the equivalent to a speeding ticket. Dozens others managed to flee.