MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two Long Island brothers are facing criminal charges in connection with a January dog attack that left a 9-year-old boy with serious injuries.
Cesar Cuellar, 27, and Anthony Villalta, 19, pleaded not guilty to reckless assault and other charges and were released without bail Wednesday.
On Jan. 27, prosecutors said the victim was walking home from school with his brother when two dogs came after him on a Westbury street. The dogs allegedly had no leashes, and no guardian was with them.
One of the dogs, a pit bull mix named Rocky, latched onto the boy’s leg, causing extensive injuries before Good Samaritans stepped in and got the dogs away from the boys.
“The victim’s injuries were so severe that he nearly died in this dog mauling incident,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “Thanks to the quick work of Nassau County Police Department, Good Samaritans and his brother, the victim is alive and recuperating.”
The victim suffered deep cuts to his left leg, muscle and tissue damage, bone exposure and blood loss.
Singas said 27-year-old Cuellar and 19-year-old Villalta knew the dog had previously attacked an adult and two other dogs, but let the animal into the backyard where he was able to get loose, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
But the defendants’ mother called the incident an accident.
“It’s nothing on purpose,” she said, adding that the dogs belong to her and have nothing to do with her kids.
Attorney Bill Shanahan, who represents the owner of the dog, believes the case should be handled in civil court.
“This is a very slippery slope that the DA’s office is going down,” Shanahan said. “This is not a criminal case. This is an incident where a dog got loose unintentionally… There was no intention for anyone to get injured here. For this case to be brought in criminal court is really inappropriate.”
“The facts will show that there was nothing done by anyone that was intentional or reckless in this case,” he added.
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