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VALPARAISO — Just more than a month after being found not guilty of beating two pug dogs to death belonging to a woman he once dated, Hammond resident Anthony Priestas pleaded guilty to a felony count of forcing his way into another woman's home.

In return for Thursday's plea, prosecutors agreed to drop a misdemeanor count of domestic battery involving another woman and have Priestas serve a sentence of 910 days on probation, according to Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester.

The 24-year-old waived his right to have a presentence report done in order to carry out sentencing on the same day as the plea.

The judge told Priestas to report to the Porter County probation department after he is released from custody in Lake County, where he faces a burglary case.

Priestas has remained behind bars for the past 350 days without bond while his cases have moved through the legal system.

In the dismissed domestic battery case filed in May 2017, Priestas was accused of repeatedly pushing to the ground and pulling the hair of a woman he had been involved with romantically for four months prior, according to charging information.

He was then charged in July 2017 with felony residential entry based on allegations of opening the door of another woman's Boone Township home and walking in before being ordered to leave.

A jury deliberated for just more than an hour Oct. 31 before clearing Priestas on two felony counts of killing a domestic animal.

The verdict came one day after Crown Point resident Jodie Paape told jurors she saw Priestas carrying the two pug dogs out of a neighbor's home during the late morning hours of Feb. 21.

Porter Township resident Kyla Sinkiewicz testified earlier in the trial she saw Priestas a short time later on Feb. 21 beating a small tan pug dog and repeatedly throwing it to the ground outside her home.

She discovered the two dogs dead in a pool of water near her home.

But a Hammond man told jurors Wednesday morning that Priestas was at home with him at the time the dogs were taken and killed.

Defense attorney Andy Kyres told jurors his client is not to blame.

"The state unfortunately has the wrong person," he said.


Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.