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UPDATED: Hearing Waived For City Man Accused Of Killing Dog

P-J file photo

MAYVILLE — A hearing to discuss statements collected by police was waived in the case of a Jamestown man accused of killing his dog by hanging it from a tree.

The Chautauqua County Public Defender’s Office, which is representing 48-year-old Robert Overton Jr. in the death of his pit bull, will consider an offer from the District Attorney’s Office that would have Overton plead guilty to the charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Public Defender Ned Barone said he couldn’t discuss the offer, but said Overton had questions regarding the procedure.

“Any time a plea is offered by the District Attorney’s Office, you want to make sure your client is fully aware of the consequences of any plea,” Barone said.

The offer of pleading to the charge was discussed Thursday in front of Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley during a Huntley Hearing in Mayville. The hearing — meant to discuss statements collected by police — was waived after a discussion.

“You always have two bites at the apple,” Barone said. “You have a pretrial ability to move suppression of the statements prior to trial if you choose to do so, but if you don’t, or if it’s denied, you always have the opportunity to address the suppression of the statements at the time of the trial itself.”

A grand jury indicted Overton on June 6 on the aggravated cruelty to animals charge, a Class E felony. The offer, if accepted, could lead to a lesser charge during sentencing, though that would be up to the judge.

Under state law, the charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 2 years in prison.

Barone said the Public Defender’s Office is preparing for trial Jan. 8.

“We’re still preparing the case to try the case,” he said. “Preparation for a case like that is very difficult.”

Barone also addressed concerns of selecting a fair and impartial jury given the circumstances of the accusations. The public defender said concerns over jury selection are considered for every case he handles.

“You have to look at all those factors,” he said.

In April, a passerby found the body of the decomposing pit bull hanging from a tree in a wooded area near Hallock and Palmer streets in Jamestown. Police said the animal was likely alive when it was hanged from the tree either late last year or early this year.

An investigation resulted in Overton’s arrest shortly after the animal was found.

Not long afterward, Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello announced plans to put forth a local law that would establish an online animal abuse registry. The bill, which will identify county residents convicted of animal abuse and prevent them from owning pets, passed the legislature and signed into law in May.

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