Convicted Santa Cruz County Criminal Represents Himself in Cockfighting Case

Brett Kenneth Miller, 58, was arrested after animal control officers searched his Ranport Road property on February 16 and discovered a pile of dead roosters under a tarp as well as an alleged cockfighting ring. Weapons and ammunition were found as well.

Among the guns recovered were three “black powder” firearms, considered by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to be antique guns. Authorities also found an “AK-style” machine gun with a 75-round capacity drum magazine.

A convicted felon dating back to the mid-1980s, Miller is prohibited from owning or having control of any firearms.

Miller chose to represent himself in court. In the two-day, eight-hour proceedings in a Santa Cruz courtroom, Miller repeatedly questioned witnesses as they offered heaps of evidence against the South County resident.

21-year-old Angie Gonzalez was also charged in the case. The two face several charges including animal cruelty, felony possession of firearms and ammunition, and tampering with the identification number of a firearm.

Gonzalez is represented by Attorney Annrae Angel. In May, Miller opted to represent himself in the preliminary hearing.

Prosecuting the case is Assistant District Attorney Nicole Jones. She referred extensively to still and video images recovered from Gonzalez’s cellphone during the two-day preliminary hearings. Among the images were Gonzalez holding a firearm, a video of a dog with what appeared to be a bird’s dismembered wing in its mouth, and several videos of roosters fighting each other in a ring.

Animal control officer Nicole Harding testified to what she described as unhealthy living conditions for the animals on the property.

Dirty and dried-up water bowls for chained dogs and poorly constructed chicken coops covered in waste were found on the property. There were also approximately 200 living roosters and hens, some of which were missing feathers, had eye problems, or were lethargic.

There was also one loose rooster which was bloodied from a fight with a caged rooster during Harding’s visit to the property.

Santa Cruz County Animal Services Field Manager Todd Stosuy testified during the hearing that his officers had passed along public reports of cockfighting at Miller’s property for years.

Superior Court Judge Cogliati ruled that there was probable cause to hold Miller and Gonzalez to answer all charges except those related to tampering with the identification number of the firearms.

The two are set to return to court on July 12 for arraignment.