AUGUSTA — An attorney for an Augusta man accused of kicking a puppy on the Kennebec River Rail Trail last year argued Thursday that the process of identifying his client as the suspect was flawed and should be thrown out.

Defense attorney Scott Hess also asked that the case against his client be dismissed.

District Court Judge Eric Walker said it was too early to consider a dismissal motion, and that he would rule on the admissibility of defendant Michael Hein’s identification as the puppy’s attacker later.

Hein, 46, has been charged with animal cruelty, a class D misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. He has denied the allegation.

Hess said during a pretrial hearing Thursday at the Capital Judicial Center that a photo identification lineup shown to AmyLou Craig, the puppy’s owner, was suggestive because it contained a photo of Hein that was similar to or the same as a photo from Hein’s Facebook page that Craig had shown police when she filed the complaint.

Under questioning Thursday, Craig said she thought just after the November 2015 incident that the man had looked familiar, but didn’t know who he was. She had posted information about the incident on Facebook and had received a number of comments and private messages in response.

Hein’s name was one of several she was given, she said, and when she looked him up on Facebook, she said she recognized him and subsequently showed his photo to Augusta police.

Craig said when she was shown the photo lineup of six similarly dressed men, she identified the man she said kicked her golden retriever, Brewer.

Officer Francois Roodman, Augusta’s animal control officer, testified Thursday that he had created the photo array under the supervision of Augusta Police Lt. Christopher Massey from photos in the department’s records system.

Augusta Police Officer David Adam testified that he didn’t follow up on other people named as possible suspects because Craig said they did not look like the man who kicked her dog.

Hess also said that of the six photos in the array, Hein’s is distinctive because the background is the lightest of the six.

But Paul Cavanaugh, Kennebec County deputy district attorney, said the backgrounds in the six photos were all different and none stood out.

Craig said she was walking her puppy on the Kennebec River Rail Trail in November 2015 when she saw a man jogging toward her.

Craig said the jogger had threatened to kick the dog if Craig did not shorten its leash. She said she did not shorten the retractable leash immediately because she didn’t want to yank on the dog’s neck, but that the dog was no less than 3 feet away when the jogger kicked it. Craig said the dog flew about 4 feet into the air, but recovered.

Augusta police charged Hein following an investigation that included statements from several witnesses.

Police said the dog was on a leash, moved in Hein’s direction as he jogged toward it, and that Hein stopped and kicked the dog.

Walker said Thursday he will give the attorneys about a week to follow up with written arguments, and then he will issue a decision.

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

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Twitter: @JLowellKJ