A Whitesboro man who faces three counts of bestiality and one count of assault of a family member was not in the 59th state District Court for a plea docket Thursday morning.


Ernesto Mercardo’s plea docket was reset for September 26. Mercado, 42, was indicted on the charges in April. The indictments are formal charges and are not an indication of guilt.


Mercado is represented by Sherman attorney John Houston Nix. Nix was in court Thursday and could not be immediately reached for comment.


Sherman Police Sgt. Brett Mullen previously said on the morning of Jan. 17, the department received a tip from an individual who pointed investigators toward evidence related to the alleged animal abuse incident. Mullen said he could not elaborate on the evidence obtained, but said it was enough to get an arrest warrant and Mercardo was taken into custody within a matter of hours.


“Our investigation was conducted and revealed that in June of 2018 (the suspect) did engage in sexual conduct or contact with a dog,” Mullen said. “That is not generally-accepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or veterinarian practice.”


Mullen said the dog was not injured in the alleged incident and had been moved to a different home before police began their investigation.


Mercardo was booked into the Grayson County Jail, but was released after posting a $5,000 bond.


Mullen said bestiality is a state jail felony and was only made a formal criminal offense in Texas in September 2017. The charge is punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.


“This is the first one, the first bestiality case for Sherman PD,” Mullen said.