No jail time in arrests after snake bite death

By the Associated Press | May 16, 2011 | 1:43 PM EDT

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A snake dealer and two other men arrested in a Tennessee wildlife agency investigation after a fatal copperhead bite in a Chattanooga suburb have avoided jail time in a plea deal that requires them to pay fines.

At a hearing Monday in Chattanooga, 39-year-old snake collector and dealer Chuck Hurd of Gate City, Va., pleaded guilty to 22 misdemeanor counts of violating Tennessee's ban on possessing and transporting poisonous snakes.

He and the other men, 32-year-old Michael Roger Clark and 37-year-old Timothy L. Lunsford, both of East Ridge, were arrested in an investigation after Wade Westbrook was bitten Jan. 29 by a copperhead he was handling at his home. Each of the three is to be fined $1,000 under the agreement.

A hearing for a fourth man charged in the case has been delayed.