MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Not guilty. That's what jurors decided should be the fate of a Midland resident handed close to 30 misdemeanor charges, for letting peacocks run wild through a neighborhood.
The peacocks at the heart of the trial roam free in Trinity Estates. Neighbors say they've done so for close to 70 years.
Neighbors add that some potential home-buyers make this area a destination because of these birds. Others, who say these peacocks are out of hand and destroy their property, were hoping for a different outcome.
"I just thank God," said Dr. George Lohmann about the outcome of his trial.
There wasn't a dull moment in court Tuesday, as residents of Trinity Estates filled the benches, awaiting the verdict.
"They honestly don't come to our yard. Maybe I would feel differently about it. I think I would throw them some food," said Trinity Estates resident, Pat Denham.
"We would definitely feed them," says her husband, Rick Denham.
It was the city versus Dr. George Lohmann, a resident of Trinity Estates. He said he was handed 30 misdemeanor charges for violating the city's "animals at large" ordinance, for the peacocks that roam the neighborhood.
The ordinance changed back in January to include peafowl.
"I have lots of animals and I feed them. Like I said, you can't put up a sign that says 'No peacocks, pigeons or doves,'" said Lohmann.
Tuesday's proceedings addressed 19 of the misdemeanor charges.
The prosecutor said the peacocks are Dr. Lohmann's responsibility. Two animal control officers who testified say they asked Mr. Lohmann to confine the birds to his property and offered suggestions like building a higher fence or clipping their wings to help them stay put.
Dr. Lohmann says he feels this whole ordeal is personal.
"They expect all that to change because they have somebody in either court, the county or city council so they can push stuff through and can manipulate the government," he said.
A juror, who wished to protect her identity, says the state did not provide enough information against Mr. Lohmann.
"About property damages or who exactly did the peacocks belong to. There were different people feeding the peacocks so there was really no ownership," she said.
After about 30 minutes of deliberation, it was a unanimous decision of not guilty.
"It was intense. We all had different opinions but we all came to a unanimous agreement," said the juror.
Brandy Hughes started a petition to save the peacocks, which has collected just under 3,000 signatures.
"They're a part of our history and they belong here, just like all of us do," said Hughes, who takes her daughter to see the peacocks on occasion.
In a statement, the City of Midland says, "The City of Midland has received several complaints from residents who said the peafowl were causing a nuisance in nearby neighborhoods. Animal Services addressed the situation by writing tickets to the individual who was believed to be the owner of the peafowl, just as they would write tickets for an at-large dog or cat. He used his right to a trial by jury to dispute those citations, and argued that he was not the owner of the peafowl in question. The jury returned a not guilty verdict. This case is really no different from a successfully disputed traffic ticket, and does not affect the City's ordinance regarding animals at large."
Dr. Lohmann isn't done yet. The rest of the misdemeanor charges still need to be addressed.