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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Interns in Harris County Prosecutor’s Office Name That Tune to Help Dog Fighting Case

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Houston Chronicle: Law interns use ingenuity in dog case

When Harris County Assistant District Attorney Belinda Smith needed to determine the date of a dogfighting video, she turned to interns to ensure that the incident happened within the two-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor charge.

The 35-minute video shows fights between pit bull-type dogs. Interns studied clothing worn by the people around the fighting ring. They also listened for distinct noises, such as those that might reveal whether a construction project might have been in progress.

Cynthia Hodges, a third-year South Texas College of Law student, read serial numbers off the money flashed in the tape. Birk Hutchens, who recently finished his first year, clued in on a cell phone’s faint ringtone. A former college disc jockey, he used software to isolate and boost the sound and recognized it as Houston rapper Paul Wall’s Sittin’ Sidewayz, released in August 2005.

Dogfighting charges were filed against five people, including a 16-year-old. After all that work, Smith said one defendant acknowledged the fight took place last November.

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