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June 12, 2013
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Deputies find alligator, stash of guns after domestic dispute call

A local man arrested after a domestic dispute is facing even more charges after Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies allegedly found a number of guns and ammunition, at the ex-felon’s residence.

They also found a nearly 5-foot-long alligator roaming the garage.

Joshua Michael Kerley, 36, was initially arrested June 3 after deputies were dispatched to his residence in the 12000 block of Hallwood Place, after a woman called and reported her fiance was under the influence of a controlled substance and very violent.

The domestic dispute was over suspected drug use, with Kerley allegedly pushing and shoving the woman before throwing her phone and breaking it.

After deputies attempted to take Kerley into custody, he tried to retreat back into the residence, slamming the door on a deputy.

Kerley was arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse, making criminal threats, resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer, damaging a communication device and false imprisonment.

Deputies returned to Kerley’s residence the following day, armed with a search warrant.

During the search, deputies were doing a sweep and came across the alligator inside the jam-packed garage, said Lt. John Lawson of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s kind of a sad story,” said Lawson, who was called out with fellow warden Jerry Karnow to “wrangle” the gator.

“The garage was packed with stuff, and there were pathways through the stuff. There was a small kiddie pool with water, but it was just a terrible situation for (the gator).”

Karnow said they managed to capture it safely, catchpole and duct tape in hand.

“It was snapping at us,” he said, adding he taped its snout and then its back legs, “just like hand-cuffing” a suspect.

The Fish and Wildlife officials transported the alligator to the department’s wildlife lab, where it was evaluated and then taken to Wild Things, a rescue organization based in Weimar.

American alligators can grow as long as 18 feet and live as long as 50 years in the wild, 80 years in captivity. This specimen was about four and a half feet long, Lawson said.

Kerley had owned the alligator for about five or six years and might have had it since it was hatched, Lawson said.

He apparently had moved several times with the gator, from Montana to California, then to Oregon and back to California.

“It would be legal if the owner had a permit for an exotic species,” Lawson said.

“But we rarely hand those out to individuals.”

Sheriff’s deputies ended up confiscating eight weapons, as well as a “bunch of ammunition,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pettitt.

Among the weapons seized were an AP-9 semi-automatic pistol, which looks like a small submachine gun, a Mini-14 rifle, an AR-10 rifle,and a shotgun with a drum magazine that could hold 25 rounds, Pettitt said.

Kerley has been charged with corporal injury to a cohabitant, criminal threats, false imprisonment by violence, child abuse, possession of firearm by a felon, being a person prohibited from owning or possessing ammunition, possession of an assault weapon, unlawful taking of an wild animal, interference with a phone and resisting or obstructing a peace officer.

He is being held in county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Kerley was arraigned in Nevada County Superior Court June 6 and an amended complaint was filed June 10. He is set to enter a plea today.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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The Union Updated Jun 13, 2013 01:48PM Published Jun 20, 2013 12:14AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.