Dismissal of charges denied

A state district judge has denied a request to dismiss charges against a local couple accused of using their adopted children to help manage an illegal puppy mill.

A state district judge has denied a request to dismiss charges against a local couple accused of using their adopted children to help manage an illegal puppy mill.

Prosecutors are lodging additional and even more serious allegations against Jeffery Leon and Barbara Jean Barrett, claiming the couple also sexually molested and exploited their children.

Pretrial hearings in the felony cases were held Monday in the 354th District Court.

Jeffery Barrett has a trial set in the court August 12 on a felony indictment of trafficking of persons-continuous.

Barbara Barrett’s felony case has been rescheduled until Feb. 10, 2020.

The Barretts are also facing misdemeanor charges in the Hunt County Court at Law No. 2 August 5 on charges of cruelty to non-livestock animals in connection with the seizure of more than 100 animals from the puppy mill on their property east of Greenville.

They have pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Jeffery Barrett remains in custody in the Hunt County Detention Center, being held in lieu of $655,000 bond.

Barbara Barrett has been released on a personal recognizance bond.

Attorneys Jessica McDonald and Frederick Shelton had filed multiple motions in the felony case, seeking the quashing of the indictments, alleging the charges against the couple were unconstitutionally overboard and vague.

Judge Keli Aiken denied the motions during the pretrial hearing Monday.

The investigation in the felony case is being handled by the Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime section of the Texas Attorney General’s office, which Tuesday morning filed amended notices of the prosecution’s intent to introduce extraneous offenses in the case.

In the motions Assistant Attorney General Kirsta Leeburg Melton alleged that on or about Aug. 9, 2018 Jeffery Barrett admitted to distributing child pornography, and that both he and Barbara Barrett possessed child pornography, including nude photos of their minor daughters. The photos were alleged to have been distributed online and stored on multiple devices. Jeffery Barrett was also alleged to have forced the male children watch the acts took place.

The motions also include multiple additional allegations of physical and emotional abuse by the couple against their children.

The couple’s five children, three boys and two girls have been placed in state custody.

The SPCA of Texas, who along with Precinct 1 Constable Terry Jones and the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, seized the 117 animals from a home on County Road 3103, off of Interstate 30, in September, 2017

 According to affidavits filed in the case by the Department of Family and Protective Services, the investigation into the welfare of the children began shortly before the Barretts were arrested in the puppy mill operation.

Four of the five children were found to have had “marks, bruises, scars and open wounds in different stages of healing.” The children described physical abuse by both Barbara and Jeffery, telling authorities that the parents had hit them with plywood, bamboo sticks and brushes.

The children, all of whom were adopted from California CPS, alleged they had suffered years of physical abuse and had been pulled from public school to care for the animals in the kennel and complete chores.