Felony assault charges dropped in Breckenridge dog bite case
A Fort Collins man charged with child abuse after a dog bite incident appeared at a preliminary hearing in the Summit County on Monday, March 21. Judge Edward Casias dismissed two felony counts — assault in the first and second degree — but carried over felony child abuse charge to District Court.
“The judge found probable cause for that charge,” Fifth Judicial deputy district attorney Alexandra Deitz said. “Serious bodily injury was established by a medical professional.”
According to Colorado statute, child abuse is a class three felony when a person acts knowingly or recklessly, resulting in serious bodily injury to a child.
Alec Peyton, 23, was arrested by Breckenridge Police in December after his golden retriever bit a six-year-old child’s face. The original warrant for Peyton’s arrest included charges of child abuse, reckless endangerment and unlawful ownership of dangerous dog.
“This was a horrific and tragic accident, not a criminal act,” Defense attorney Sanam Mehrnia said. “My client and his family’s prayers are with (the child).”
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According to the arrest affidavit, an officer responded to a dog bite case on Dec. 10, 2015 at the Village at Breckenridge. On scene, he encountered a six-year-old child with a large wound below her left eye and missing part of her upper lip.
The officer noted a witness said the family asked if it was OK to pet the dog, and Peyton held the dog back, clamping its muzzle shut. Another witness provided a written statement with a similar description of the events.
Others questioned this version of the events. Peyton’s mother said a large group walked up and surrounded him and started petting the golden retriever, when the six-year-old wrapped her arms around it, and it bit her face.
“I was told the parents were screaming at Alec, telling him to get the f—k out of here or we’re gonna kill your f—ing dog. The manager of the hotel told him to leave now,” she explained. “They went home hysterical, not knowing what to do.”
Video surveillance of the incident shows a group approaching Peyton and his dog, who are nearly out of frame. The group stands around the dog, and, shortly after the child reaches out her arms to pet it, the dog bites and Peyton falls backward. After remaining on-scene for several moments, he leaves.
The charges of first- and second-degree assault were added after the initial arrest, as well as tampering with physical evidence and two modifying crime of violence counts.
Deitz said the addition of the first- and second-degree assault counts were “a charging decision by our office.”
According to Colorado statute, the elements of first-degree assault include “intentionally causing serious bodily injury to another person through the use of a deadly weapon or conduct which creates a grave risk of death,” or “the commission of a crime causes serious injury to another.”
Mehrnia argued the dismissal of the two assault charges was an appropriate decision, and the two filings by the District Attorney’s office “are blatant examples of the continuous pattern of the overcharging of cases that continue to flow from their office. The prosecution should be the dispenser of justice, not the wielder of a heavy hammer.”
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