AUGUSTA — A judge on Tuesday postponed a case in which a city man is accused of kicking a 4-month-old puppy in November on the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

Michael Hein, 46, of Augusta, was scheduled to appear at the Capital Judicial Center for a dispositional conference, but the case was postponed because a deputy district attorney wasn’t available. No new hearing date has been set.

News of the case’s continuance disappointed a dozen people, including the puppy owner’s family, who had gathered with signs saying, “Power to the Puppy” and “No animal cruelty.”

Hein is accused of kicking a puppy owned by AmyLou Craig while she was walking the dog on the trail on Nov. 23, 2015. Through his attorney, Scott Hess, Hein has denied the accusation. Hein has been charged with animal cruelty, a class D crime that carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Hess said Tuesday his client was disappointed that the case was postponed.

“The court date was not moved at his request,” Hess said. “He unequivocally denies the allegations and looks forward to the truth being presented in a court of law.”

Hess objected in court to the postponement, which was granted by Judge Tom Nale.

Hess said he understood that the hearing was continued because the prosecutor was not available. However, as the 10 a.m. hearing was approaching, Craig, her parents and others lined up coffee and doughnuts on a wall outside the Capital Judicial Center. The puppy involved in the alleged attack, Brewer, was not present for their planned protest.

“I didn’t think that would be appropriate,” Craig said. Brewer will be a year old in a couple of weeks, she said.

Craig said she was disappointed the case was not addressed Tuesday. “I’d really like to see it over and done with,” she said.

Hein is well known in local political circles as a conservative activist. He was fired from the Christian Civic League of Maine in 2010 and later took the organization to the Maine Human Rights Commission, claiming that it had retaliated against him for alleging that the group had an illegal working relationship with a staff writer. The league was later cleared of wrongdoing.

In July 2012, Hein was sentenced to serve seven days in jail after pleading guilty to a charge of willful violation of the Maine Clean Election Act. Prosecutors said Hein tried to qualify for public financing under the Clean Election Act and needed qualifying contributions of $5 each from 60 registered voters in House District 57, which at the time included part of Augusta. Hein admitted that he broke the law by paying for those contributions out of his own wallet.

In 2006, Hein made headlines by leading a protest against the use of live models in a downtown Augusta lingerie shop called Spellbound. He asked police to investigate what he described as indecent activities at the store and said he worried about school buses that passed by the windows. The store closed later that year after about a year in business.

At Tuesday’s scheduled court hearing, Laura Benedict, owner of the Red Barn restaurant in Augusta, said she joined the show of support for the dog after reading on Facebook about what happened. Benedict said she has dogs of her own and was “outraged” by the alleged attack.

Craig’s father, Lou Craig, owner of College Carry-Out in Augusta, where a large sign has urged “Justice for Puppy Brewer,” thanked all those for coming to show support for Brewer and AmyLou Craig.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney also talked to those gathered outside the courthouse to explain that her office requested the case’s continuance because Deputy District Attorney Paul Cavnaugh, who is assigned to the case, was on vacation.

“I let them know the case has been assigned to our most experienced attorney,” she said. “It’s the only continuance we’ve requested.”

She also said she expected that the case will go to trial and that this would not necessarily delay that, since the court prioritizes trials for those in custody as well as sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

Augusta police charged Hein following an investigation that included statements from several witnesses. Police said the dog was on a leash, moved in Hein’s direction as he jogged toward it, and Hein stopped and kicked the dog.

Craig said shortly after the attack that a jogger had threatened to kick the dog if Craig did not shorten its leash. She said she did not shorten the retractable leash immediately because she didn’t want to yank on the dog’s neck. She said the dog was no less than 3 feet from the jogger. Craig said the dog flew about 4 feet into the air after it was kicked, and the dog recovered.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams