Lexi the dog bit first, says man charged with animal cruelty

A 37-year-old man charged with slashing a dog’s throat told investigators that the pit bull bit him on the arm first.

Bail was set at $5,000 Wednesday and it was not immediately met for Jamel E. Howell, 37, of 929 Hillcrest Ave., Utica, who appeared before City Court Judge John C. Gannon on a charge of aggravated cruelty to an animal. His case was adjourned for a felony exam to April 20.

Police said at 9:53 p.m. March 4, Howell picked up his friend’s pet dog, Lexi, by her chain collar and held her in the air with one hand. Police said Howell then pulled out a box-cutter and slit Lexi’s throat, causing a four inch laceration. The attack occurred at the owner’s residence in the 500 block of Floyd Ave.

Lexi, a 12-month-old pit bull, was rushed to a veterinarian. Police said she survived after receiving emergency surgery.

In a statement to police, Lexi’s owner said she was hanging out with several friends at home, including Howell. She said Lexi was excited and was jumping towards Howell, and that he had met the dog before and knew the dog’s friendly demeanor.

But then the owner said Howell suddenly picked up the dog by the collar and slit Lexi’s throat right in front of her.

Howell told the woman that Lexi had bitten him on the arm, according to her statement.

In his statement to police, Howell said he was dancing to some music in the kitchen with his friends when Lexi suddenly jumped up and latched on to his arm. Howell said he pulled out his utility knife and put it against the dog’s throat, telling the owner to get her dog off his arm. Howell told police that he then noticed the dog’s neck was bleeding, so he let Lexi go and dropped his blade on the floor.

Howell said he did not mean to hurt the dog, he just wanted the animal to let him go.

Also in City Court:

¿ Earl A. Howard III, 20, or 413 W. Court St., was released on his own recognizance on charges of second-degree harassment, fourth-degree mischief and endangering the welfare of a child. His case was adjourned to May 2.

Police said at 8:45 p.m. April 7, Howard was in a domestic dispute with his pregnant girlfriend at their residence, during which he punched a hole in the bedroom wall. His girlfriend’s 11-year-old son was also at the residence, and police said Howard pinned the boy up against the refrigerator and smacked him in the head. When the girlfriend tried to get Howard off her son, police said Howard struck the woman in the head.

Someone else in the residence called 9-1-1 and witnesses said Howard fled the resident. He was picked up on an arrest warrant Thursday morning.

¿ Brandon H. Coonrod, 18, of 108 Turin St., was released on his own recognizance on a charge of unlawful possession of marijuana. His case was adjourned to May 21.

Police said at 2:13 a.m. April 13, Coonrod was found with two baggies of marijuana in the parking lot of Park Drive Manor.