Investigators have cited a long list of items they claim were used for breeding fighting roosters after a May bust at a Nipomo residence.
But defendant Paul Andrew Castellanos’ lawyer said that the more than 700 birds found were being bred to show in local fairs and for trade.
Castellanos, 48, is scheduled for a trial-setting conference in Grover Beach Superior Court on Sept. 29 on charges of misdemeanor possession of fighting birds and possession of cockfighting implements. He has pleaded not guilty.
A co-defendant, Juan Manuel Leyva Corral, has pleaded not guilty to the same charges scheduled for trial setting Sept. 29.
Andy Ybarra Castellanos, Paul Castellanos’ father, pleaded no contest in June to misdemeanor possession of cockfighting implements. He was sentenced to one year of probation and a $450 fine.
The Castellanoses were residents of the property where the bust occurred on Grace Lane — near Orchard Road and Faith Place — in Nipomo, according to authorities.
Deputy Darren Davidson wrote in a search warrant that the Sheriff’s Department received an e-mail tip that the birds had been prepared for a cockfight scheduled to take place in the Central Valley.
Investigators followed up on the tip by flying over the residence and observing hundreds of roosters, Davidson said.
“Upon viewing the pens with a telephoto lens (Davidson) could see that most of the birds housed individually were roosters,” Davidson wrote. “... The fighting cocks are kept separate because they are very aggressive and will fight with one another.”
Davidson cited Paul Castellanos’ county record of a citation for being present at a cockfight in 1995 and his no contest plea to possession of cockfighting implements in 2003.
Items investigators say they collected from the Nipomo property include a spiral notebook with payment information regarding fighting birds, cockfighting publications, spur saws, sparring muffs and cutting shears with dried blood.
But Paul Castellanos’ attorney, Jon Gudmunds, said that the Castellanos family likes to raise birds and show them in county fairs, but they have no intention of using the birds for fighting.
“The birds fight naturally, and it’s in their genes, but if you’re careful and keep them apart and raise them, they are very beautiful animals,” Gudmunds said. “They trade the birds with others and raise them for show and have been doing it for more than 25 years.”
Gudmunds said that Andy Ybarra Castellanos entered into a no contest plea agreement in the case — which results in a conviction without an admission of guilt — because he didn’t want to go through the time, cost and energy of fighting the case.