Forsyth County prosecutors dropped all but one of the charges against a Winston-Salem man in connection with a Muddy Creek Greenway incident last year that left one horse shot to death and two other horses injured.
Alonzo D’Juan Cross, 20, of the 4100 block of Ogburn Avenue in Winston-Salem, pleaded guilty on May 16 in Forsyth District Court to one count of possession of a stolen firearm, according to court records. More than 12 other charges, including three counts of felony animal cruelty and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, were dismissed by prosecutors as part of a plea arrangement, court papers said.
Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to move forward with the animal-cruelty charges.
“Based upon the evidence that was available to us, we would not have been able to successfully prosecute Cross for shooting the horses,” Assistant District Attorney Jane Garrity, who prosecuted the case, said in an email Monday. “What we believe and what we can prove are often two different things. It is also worth noting that the victims were supportive of our efforts.”
Forsyth District Court Judge Ted Kazakos gave Cross a suspended sentence of six months to 17 months in jail. He placed Cross on supervised probation for one year. Cross also has to pay $960 in restitution.
Ben Porter, Cross’ attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Three juvenile males were also charged in the case. Garrity said she could not comment on the status of those cases because they involve juveniles.
“Ultimately, Alonzo Cross was the sole adult charged and was prosecuted as a felon using all of the available and admissible evidence at our disposal,” Garrity said.
Three horses shot
The shootings happened at Muddy Creek Greenway on the morning of May 12, 2018, a Saturday. Police said the three teenagers and Cross drove three stolen vehicles — a Chevrolet Impala, a Ford Bronco and a Ford Ranger pickup — onto the greenway, which is off Robinhood Road. The greenway is meant only for bicycles and pedestrians. Police got a call that the vehicles were speeding on the greenway. When officers got there, they found the wounded horses.
Arrest warrants alleged that Cross used a .22-250-caliber rifle to shoot Jelly, one of the horses, in the head, killing her. Warrants alleged that Cross used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot another horse named Dixie several times, resulting in gunshot wounds to the horse’s body. Cisco, a third horse, was injured from stray pellets breaking his skin.
A week before the shooting incident, two of the three teenagers accused in the case broke into a man’s house, stole 10 guns and later took his Chevrolet Impala, search warrants said. Two of the teens were 15 at the time and one was 14, according to arrest warrants.
Cross was linked to the crime through an anonymous woman who called Winston-Salem police and told investigators that one of the teenagers and Cross had something to do with the horse shooting. Police started watching Cross’ house.
They also started watching the teenagers’ house, where they saw two different teens walk out and get on bicycles, search warrants said. The two were later seen in the parking lot of a shopping center on Peters Creek Parkway. A Winston-Salem police detective reported seeing one of the teenagers tampering with a car while the other served as lookout.
Winston-Salem police took the two teens into custody, and one of them talked to Winston-Salem police, also giving them a picture from his Snapchat social-media account. The picture showed the inside of the Impala, with a double-barreled shotgun visible.
That teenager denied involvement in stealing the guns or the Impala, but he admitted that on May 11 he and two other young men broke into several cars while driving the stolen Impala. The two other teenagers stole the Ford Bronco and the Ford Ranger, according to the search warrant.
The teenager told police that another boy driving the Ranger picked up Cross, who was a passenger when the truck was driven onto the greenway, and that he “heard shots from a loud gun coming from behind him as they were driving past the field.”
The boy told police they continued driving, doing burnouts and drifting, for a short period of time and that he heard two more gunshots coming from behind him, the search warrants said.
Cross and the three teenagers returned to Cross’ house on Ogburn Avenue. Police later searched Cross’ house and seized guns.
After the shooting, the owner of the horse named Cisco, Russell Robinson, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq, was inspired to participate in a highly selective program in which veterans train wild horses. He told the Winston-Salem Journal in August 2018 that Jelly’s death inspired him to create a veteran-horses program similar to the Texas program in which he was selected to participate.
Garrity said prosecuting animal-cruelty cases remains a priority for the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office and added that Winston-Salem police worked “tirelessly on this case to bring some justice on behalf of the horses that were so callously shot by those involved.”
“As an avid horse lover and former competitive horseback rider myself, it was also important to pursue charges against anyone who would harm such majestic animals,” she said. “In prosecuting this case, I spent many hours consulting with the owners of the horses and the victims and paid homage to the horses at the memorial erected on the Greenway.”