NEWBURYPORT — A Vermont man could spend up to seven years in jail after being arrested Wednesday for allegedly kicking a dog and grabbing its owner after a violent confrontation at Moseley Pines.
Justin Evans, 42, of White River Junction, was charged with animal cruelty and assault and battery and arraigned in Newburyport District Court yesterday. Released on personal recognizance, Evans was ordered to stay away from the Spofford Street park and his alleged victim. He is due back in court Sept. 21 for a pretrial hearing
According to court records, Evans could be sentenced to seven years in prison, 21/2 years in a house of correction and fined $5,000 if convicted of animal cruelty.
Word of the alleged attack made its way onto Facebook yesterday as the victim posted it on the public group The Dogs of Woodsom Farm. As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday there were 70 comments on her post.
The victim, an Amesbury resident, said the mixed-breed rescue dog was in the off-leash area of the park when the alleged incident took place.
According to the report of Newburyport police Inspector Christopher McDonald, police received a report around 4:30 p.m. of a man grabbing the alleged victim and then kicking her dog because it was barking. He then walked away in an unknown direction. After obtaining a description of the suspect, police searched both entrances to the park and eventually spotted him walking down Spring Lane.
Evans then told McDonald that as he was walking through Moseley Pines, a dog approached him and continuously barked at him. Asked whether the dog bit him, Evans said it had not touched him.
Evans then called over the owner and told her to control her dog. When she didn’t immediately control the animal, he became frustrated and grabbed the woman. After shaking her for a moment, he demanded that she gain control of her dog. Around the same time, Evans kicked the dog in frustration.
Speaking to the alleged victim, officer Matthew Whitty was told that Evans had grabbed her upper arm and shoved her. The alleged victim defended herself with the dog leash she had in her hand.
“After getting grabbed (the victim) said that he then walked over to the dog and kicked it,” McDonald wrote in his report.
After the booking process, Evans told police that he had just lost his mother to cancer last week and was having some “tough days,” according to McDonald.