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Judge to Review Files in 'Patrick the Pit Bull' Case

Former owner of famous dog seeking to avoid jail time on animal-cruelty charges

The woman acccused in an animal cruelty case that captured national attention last year appeared in Essex County Superior Court Monday to ask a judge to review documents her attorney claims will help in her defense.


Kisha Curtis and her lawyer, Andrew Rojas, asked Judge Joseph Cassini III to examine files from the state Department of Children and Families related to Curtis. The 28-year-old has three children.

Because the documents are sealed to the public, it is unclear exactly how they will aid in the defense of Curtis, who is charged with tossing a pit bull down the trash chute of a Newark high-rise in March 2011. Rojas, however, said the files  were relevant to Curtis's case.

“We are not looking for material on the children. We’re looking for information on Ms. Curtis and the state services with which she interacted,” Rojas said.

The prosecution argued the files should not be released, but Cassini disagreed, stating that he has “historically granted requests for in-camera review of documents.” The files, which will include transcripts of recordings, are to be turned over to Cassini by Oct. 1. Curtis is scheduled to appear again before Cassini on Oct. 22.

The dog, later named "Patrick the Pit Bull," became something of a celebrity after animal-rights activists helped publicize the case. Patrick has a Facebook page with more than 150,000 likes. About a half-dozen people wearing green "Patrick" shirts attended Monday's hearing. 

Curtis has already rejected a plea agreement with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office that would result in up to 18 months in jail and a fine on the animal cruelty charge. Rojas is asking the court to instead place Curtis in a pre-trial intervention program, which could help her avoid jail.

Patrick the Pit Bull has been taken in by Patricia-Smillie Scavelli, the administrator of Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, where Patrick was nursed back to health.

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