SEATTLE — A 29-year-old homeless man who Seattle police describe as “aggressive, assaultive and destructive,” was charged with first degree attempted theft and first degree animal cruelty for allegedly kicking and killing a man’s 14-year-old pet dog — a Jack Russell terrier named Alice — during a robbery attempt.
According to Seattle police, the dog’s owner — a 67-year-old man who lives at the nearby Frye Apartments — was walking his dog through a trail in City Hall Park next to the King County Courthouse on April 30. The park is also the site of one of the most established homeless encampments in Seattle.
Investigators said a 29-year-old man who lived in a tent in the park confronted the dog’s owner, demanding he hand over the jacket he was wearing and threatened to beat him.
In court documents, Seattle police said the dog’s owner who was wearing an orthopedic boot after having surgery on his leg, tried to pepper-spray the suspect out of fear and attempted to hobble away. Police said the suspect sprinted after him on the sidewalk outside of the park.
“Without breaking stride, he kicked Alice, launching Alice into the air,” investigators wrote in court documents. “(The owner) witnessed his dog’s head impact the concrete and he immediately knew his longtime companion was deceased.”
The suspect was arrested for animal cruelty and robbery. King County prosecutors asked Judge Marcus Naylor to keep the suspect in jail, recommending $25,000 bail. Instead, the judge decided to release the suspect on his own recognizance.
“The decision to keep someone in jail or not is only up to a judge,” said Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecutor’s Office. “The best prosecutors can do is what we did here: show the evidence that we have from police and argue that someone is a danger.”
Seattle police and the prosecutor told the judge:
“(The suspect) is now a complete danger to the public and property. If he is released, he will more than likely to return to City Hall Park, where his assaultive/destructive/aggressive behavior will continue to increase and cause havoc to residents and visitors of the Seattle area.”
Adding to the issue, prosecutors said the suspect has no known address and officers will have to find the suspect and re-arrest him.
“You can count of the prosecutor’s office that every time someone is arrested for allegedly kicking a dog to death, we’ll be in court to ask that the person be held in jail,” McNerthney said.
Chief Presiding Judge Susan Mahoney’s office who heard the case issued a statement that read, “As a dog owner and as someone who comes in and out of the downtown Seattle courthouse on a regular basis, I understand the outrage many folks in our community feel with such incidents. However, as judges, when we put on our robe and walk into a courtroom, our decisions must be based only on the applicable law and the admissible information before us and must never be based on personal preference or opinion. It is also important to remember that the judicial decision made in this case was whether to hold someone who is accused of a crime. A charging decision has not yet been made. The judge must make a decision based on the facts presented in a short narrative and based on the available information unique to the alleged circumstances of a particular case. There is often more information than is conveyed to the public. The suspect in this case had no known criminal history and no history of failing to appear for court. Probable cause was found for the non-felony charge of Animal Cruelty in the Second Degree – a gross misdemeanor. The judge did impose conditions pending the suspects return to court for the prosecutor’s charging decision scheduled for June 3, 2021.”
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