A local musician has been arrested after police say she continued driving as the legs of a horse she was hauling broke through a trailer and drug the ground causing severe injuries that led to its euthanization.
Police claim the driver then went on to “abandon” the injured horse by tying it to a tree near the 700 block of St. Francis Street in Downtown Mobile before driving away. Police were eventually called to the scene, and according to public court filings, the horse had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.
The accused suspect, 34-year-old Yolonda Jones, was arrested and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals late last week after police spent several days trying to contact the driver of the vehicle carrying the animal after it was captured in footage taken from security cameras in the area.
The incident occured on Oct. 31, and by Nov. 6, police turned the images they had of the vehicle over to the public in hopes of identifying a suspect and even offered a $1,000 reward for information. The next day, Jones turned herself in at Mobile County Metro Jail and was released on bond within a couple of hours.
But the horse’s death has continued to draw sharp criticism on social media from both locals and animal advocates from outside the city. The executive director of Animal Wellness Action, Marty Irby, is a native Mobilian who released a statement decrying the incident earlier this week.
“This is a heinous act of equine cruelty that’s garnered attention on the national stage,” Irby wrote in a statement shared with Lagniappe. “Our iconic American horses are a great part of Mobile’s history, and this act of abuse in my hometown brings great sadness to horse lovers across the U.S.”
Jones is a relatively well-known trombonist and singer who performs solo and with others throughout the area. On stage, she goes by the name “Yo Jonesy” and as the frontwoman for the Crowned Jewelz Band. As news of her arrest spread, though, angry comments quickly began to show up on her music pages.
However, Jones’s friends, fans and supporters have also started telling a different story about the “tragic accident” that led to a horse dying and Jones facing criminal charges. While Jones doesn’t appear to have spoken publicly about the incident herself, she has shared statements and posts from supporters — including one that claimed she’d been receiving threats on social media over the incident.
While no one has denied Jones was driving the truck carrying the horse when it was injured, some of her supporters have disputed the characterization that she “abandoned” the animal afterward.
“The horse was taken to her home, where she lives every day, and secured on a tree in her backyard to alleviate the suffering,” a supporter wrote in a post that Jones later shared to one of her music pages. “She immediately made phone calls starting with 911 and local vets and left messages and got no responses, so she went to the fire department and reported the incident personally.”
According to a police report, the horse was found tied up at a home that sits directly across the street from the Mobile Fire Rescue Department (MFRD) station near the intersection of St. Francis and Washington streets. Court filings also indicate Jones was listed as the complaintaint on her own animal cruelty charge.
What’s still unclear is when exactly Jones reported the incident to MFRD. The post suggested it happened immediately, but police said they had still not identified the owner of the horse nearly a week after the accident, when it publicly released photographs of the truck and trailer in which the horse was being hauled.
Despite that, Jones’s supporters online have claimed she cooperated with the authorities the whole time.
“She communicated with authorities as they requested up until the day she turned herself in without legal counsel and totally of her own free will to be transparent about her innocence of cruelty to animals before a warrant was issued,” the friend’s post concluded. “I am writing this for the protection of Yo Jonesy after threats to harm her and I accept full responsibility for what I post.”
At this point, very little information has been released on what led to Jones facing criminal charges.
State law defines aggravated animal cruelty as “intentionally or knowingly” causing an animal to suffer “inhumane treatment or gross physical abuse” through cruelty or neglect. Jones is scheduled to have an initial appearance in Mobile County District Court next week before Judge George Hardesty.
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