A Poultney man is facing a felony charge after police said a fight between dogs turned into a fight among the humans who own them.

Thomas R. Keith, 37, pleaded not guilty Monday in Rutland criminal court to a felony charge of aggravated domestic assault and a misdemeanor charge of interference with access to emergency results.

In an affidavit, Sgt. Andrew Cross, of the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, said police responded to a Poultney home around 9:40 p.m. Saturday.

Cross said he was met at the door by a woman who told police her daughter, who is involved with Keith, would claim she had assaulted the man who reported the incident, but the woman said it was really Keith.

Cross said the incident started when two dogs started fighting upstairs.

Keith told police he and his girlfriend were trying to get the dogs apart when the woman began to argue with the girlfriend. The girlfriend is related to the woman and the man.

According to Keith, the fight continued with the man and the girlfriend starting to argue. Keith said the girlfriend spit in the man’s face and “smacked” him.

The girlfriend gave police a story that was substantially similar to Keith’s statement. She told police she hit the man.

Cross said he spoke to the man, who said Keith was the person who hit him. He also told police that Keith “(expletive) spit in my face three different times.”

According to the affidavit, Keith “smashed two cellphones.”

The woman said Keith broke the cellphones so she and the man couldn’t contact police.

Also she told police that Keith and his girlfriend told two children in the house that they should say the girlfriend hit the man so Keith wouldn’t go to jail.

When Cross spoke to the children, who are 5 and 6, one said to the other, “Don’t tell the truth,” the affidavit said.

But Cross said the children both eventually told police that Keith had hit the man.

After Keith was arrested, Cross said he found out there was an active arrest warrant for Keith from New Hampshire for a felony charge of willful concealment for a theft over $1,500.

Keith was convicted of domestic assault in August 2012. The charge for which Keith was arraigned Monday was modified as a charge of domestic assault following a conviction for a similar charge.

On Monday, Keith declined to waive his right to be extradited to New Hampshire. However, the pending charges allowed the state to hold Keith on $5,000 bail.

Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver told Judge Samuel Hoar the state was concerned that Cross and his girlfriend allegedly asked the children whom police interviewed to lie about the incident but Hoar declined to place bail on the state charges.

If convicted of the Vermont charges, Keith could be sentenced to up to six years in jail.



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