AUGUSTA — At a pretrial hearing in the case of an Augusta man accused of kicking a puppy on the Kennebec River Rail Trail in November 2015, an attorney for Michael Hein sought to show Thursday that the identification of his client was flawed.

Hein, 46, 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. He has denied the allegation.

Scott Hess, who is representing Hein, said during a court proceeding at the Capital Judicial Center that a photo identification lineup that was shown to AmyLou Craig was suggestive because it contained a photo of Hein that was similar to or the same as a photo of Hein that Craig had shown the police from Hein’s Facebook page.

Under questioning Thursday, Craig, who owns the golden retriever puppy that was allegedly kicked, said she thought the man had looked familiar, but didn’t know who he was. She had posted information about the incident on Facebook and had received a number of comments and private messages in response, some with similar stories. Hein’s name was one of several she was given, she said, and when she looked him up on Facebook, she said she recognized him.

She said she showed those photos to the Augusta police.

Craig said when she was shown the photo lineup of six men, similarly dressed, she identified the man she said kicked her dog.

Officer Francois Roodman, Augusta’s animal control officer, testified Thursday that he had created the photo array under the supervision of Augusta Police Lt. Christopher Massey from photos that are on the department’s records system. He confirmed that Craig identified the photo of Hein.

Augusta Police Officer David Adam testified that while other names had come up, he didn’t follow up on them because Craig said they did not look like the man she said kicked her dog.

Hess also pointed out that of the six photos in the photo array, Hein’s is distinctive because the background in the photo is the lightest of the six.

Paul Cavanaugh, Kennebec County deputy district attorney, said the backgrounds in the six photos were all different and not suggestive.

Hess also submitted a motion to dismiss the case, but District Court Judge Eric Walker said that appeared to be a motion to be made at the time of the trial rather than before it started.

“I’ll deny this without prejudice so that you can pursue this once the trial has begun,” he said. “It’s premature at this time.”

In November 2015, Craig said she was walking her puppy on the Kennebec River Rail Trail when she saw a man jogging toward her and her dog, Brewer. 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.

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.

A dispositional conference scheduled for July was delayed because a deputy district attorney was not available.

Walker said Thursday he will give the attorneys about a week to follow up with written arguments and any other information, and he will issue a decision as soon as he can.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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