Kiss bit cop

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LEWISTON – A man whose pit bull, named Kiss, bit a police officer shortly before the dog owner was charged with assault appeared in court Thursday.

Eighth District Court Judge Rick Lawrence ordered Marc Jonitis, 22, of 427 Main St. to stay away from his pregnant girlfriend, the alleged assault victim, and to have no contact with his dog.

Lawrence also ordered that Jonitis not consume alcohol or drugs, nor possess dangerous weapons.

Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman was seeking $1,500 cash bail, citing Jonitis’ criminal record, which included two assault convictions dating back to 2003.

Allan Lobozzo, a court-appointed attorney who represented Jonitis during his appearance Thursday, argued for $500 bail. He said the case had attracted media scrutiny because of the dog, not due to his client’s alleged criminal conduct.

Jonitis has no history of failing to appear in court when summoned, Lobozzo said. Jonitis could live with his grandmother at her Lewiston home and has no independent means of income, Lobozzo said.

Lawrence settled on $750 cash bail. A probable cause hearing on Jonitis’ probation hold should be held soon, Lawrence said. A tentative trial date was set for March 29.

Police arrested Jonitis on Tuesday night, charging him with:

assault.

refusing to submit to arrest.

criminal restraint.

endangering the welfare of a child.

Officer Derrick St. Laurent was bitten in the buttocks by the dog but its teeth didn’t break the skin.

Police showed up at the residence after at least two neighbors called 911. Witnesses said they heard the sound of punches coming from the first-floor apartment, followed by a woman’s screams for help and the phrase, “Marc. stop hitting me.” They also heard a dog’s bark and a toddler’s cries, court records state.

Officers pounded on the apartment door, but nobody answered. They forced their way inside and found Jonitis pinning his 18-year-old girlfriend and a 10-month-old toddler to the floor in the corner of a closet, according to a police affidavit. His fist was cocked as if to strike them, Officer Ryan Guay wrote in his sworn statement.

Jonitis fought with police officers during his arrest, while the woman and toddler escaped with the dog to another room in the apartment, Guay stated in the document.

Jonitis was handcuffed, but continued to kick. Officers sprayed a chemical in an effort to subdue him. But he was “still out of control,” Guay wrote.

Jonitis was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center for medical evaluation for injuries he sustained from his struggles with police.

The alleged victim said she and Jonitis had an argument. He shoved her to the floor. She punched him, then packed a bag and tried to leave the apartment with her child. Jonitis threw a 24-ounce bottle of Gatorade, hitting the woman as she was leaving. She said Jonitis hit her before police showed up.

When ordered to stay away from Kiss, Jonitis told the judge, “I’ve already made arrangements for that dog to be taken.”

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