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American News Jun 4, 2021 4:12 AM EST

Seattle homeless man, released from jail one day after allegedly assaulting man and killing his dog, is a no-show for court hearing

Judge Marcus Naylor reduced the animal cruelty charge sought by the prosecution from a felony to a gross misdemeanor and ordered Courtney Williams released from jail on his own recognizance.

Seattle homeless man, released from jail one day after allegedly assaulting man and killing his dog, is a no-show for court hearing
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

A homeless man with multiple priors, who allegedly assaulted a 67-year-old man and kicked his dog to death, was a no show for a court appearance Thursday, after being released a day after the attack by a King County judge. The suspect is now facing felony charges in connection to the incident.

According to court documents, Saturday afternoon John Hickey was walking his 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Alice, through Courthouse Park. The park, which is near Hickey’ apartment, is home to a notorious homeless encampment, ripe with crime, next to the King County Courthouse just a few blocks away from Seattle City Hall.

The suspect identified as Courtney J Williams, 29, allegedly demanded that Hickey give him his jacket, and according to documents said, "I'll knock your head off if you don't give me that jacket," then assumed a fighting stance like a boxer.

Hickey, who had been assaulted before and had a previous leg injury, pepper-sprayed the suspect in self-defense. According to the documents, the suspect backed away and while the victim attempted to flee as fast as his injured leg could carry him, but "the suspect ran up behind him and kicked his dog so hard she flew into the air." The dog landed head-first on the concrete walkway.

Hickey told Q13 Fox, "I heard pounding of feet and I turned around and he was running full speed at us and I didn't have time to really do anything. I had her on the leash and he came running towards her, knocked me down and he kicked her so hard that she went up in the air and started hemorrhaging." The victim sustained minor injuries after the suspect pushed him to the ground. When he got up to check on his dog, he saw she was hemorrhaging. Alice died in her owner’s arms.

"She thought everybody liked her and she was just proud of that. And the most horrible thing, when she died she gave me a look...just was like she was confused that anyone would do something like that to her," Hickey told Q13 Fox.

The suspect fled, but police identified him from the victim’s statement, emergency personnel and previous incidents with law enforcement. Officers arrested Williams and booked him into jail on Sunday evening, less than a block from the park for animal cruelty and robbery.

"She got me through days when I literally don't think I would've gotten up in the morning. Except I knew she needed me and she knew that I needed her," a grieving Hickey told Q13 Fox.

The King County Prosecutor's Office had asked Judge Marcus Naylor to hold Williams on $25,000 bail and argued that the attack was unprovoked and that the suspect is a danger to the community.

According to KIRO 7, Seattle police and the prosecutor told the judge that the suspect was "a complete danger to the public and property. If he is released, he will more than likely to return to City Hall Park, where his assaultive/destructive/aggressive behavior will continue to increase and cause havoc to residents and visitors of the Seattle area."

Seattle police also advocated for Williams to remain in custody believing from his previous record that his dangerous behavior would continue. Williams has a record of assault and harassment and was described by police as "aggressive, assaultive and destructive."

Additionally, because the suspect is homeless, he has no known address, and if he is charged with felony animal cruelty, officers will have to find the suspect and re-arrest him.

Judge Naylor instead reduced the animal cruelty charge sought by the prosecution from a felony to a gross misdemeanor and ordered Williams released from jail on his own recognizance one day after his arrest.

The warnings turned out to be prophetic as Williams missed his court appearance Thursday. A warrant was issued for his arrest on two felony counts: first-degree attempted theft and first-degree animal cruelty.

Casey McNerthney, with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, told KIRO 7, "The decision to keep someone in jail or not is only up to a judge. The best prosecutors can do is what we did here: show the evidence that we have from police and argue that someone is a danger." McNerthney added, "You can count of the prosecutor’s office that every time someone is arrested for allegedly kicking a dog to death, we’ll be in court to ask that the person be held in jail."

According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, first-degree animal cruelty is the most serious animal cruelty charge that can be filed in Washington State, aside from aggravating factors such as sexual motivation or animal fighting.

City and county officials have been under fire for years for not prosecuting crimes. In 2019 business groups in Seattle commissioned a report on 100 prolific offenders who were terrorizing downtown Seattle residents and businesses.

Williams remains at-large.

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