Felony abuse charges dismissed

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Two felony charges of animal cruelty have been dismissed in the case against Jessie Eugene Arno, 35, 55931 Dilles Bottom Road, Shadyside.

Due to a prior conviction in 2004, the state charged Arno with felonies of the fifth degree. According to the office of Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Fregiato, the the prior conviction was not under the correct statute to enhance the current charges.

Charges stem from the death of two pit bulls and near-death of another in May, when the county humane officer discovered the dead dogs and the condition of the survivor.

“The judge’s determination was not one of guilt or innocence, but was a determination that felony charges could not lie in this matter,” said Prosecutor Chris Berhalter. “This case will not be dropped or dismissed, as we will file additional misdemeanour charges and proceed on those.”

Arno’s co-defendant, Becky Vittor, will face misdemeanour charges.

Arno also faces recent charges of aggravated robbery, conspiracy, aggravated assault, and menacing.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com