UPDATE @ 3:30 p.m.
Matthew Bolen changed his plea to guilty to a charge of causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, a fifth degree felony.
Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller said the 24-year-old Bolen is the first to be tried in Greene County under Goddard’s Law, which went into effect in 2016 and increased the severity of the crime of hurting a companion animal from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Sentencing was delayed until April pending a pre-sentence investigation.
A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon that is expected to end an animal abuse case that has led to public protests and demonstrations outside the Greene County Courthouse.
Matthew Bolen, 24, is charged with causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, a fifth-degree felony, and is scheduled to appear today in Judge Stephen Wolaver’s courtroom.
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Bolen, whose address on file with the court is in Washington Twp., pleaded not guilty to the charge in October.
The hearing set for today is for a plea agreement, in which Bolen is expected to change his plea as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Xenia police arrested the defendant in August when he allegedly hurt his then girlfriend’s puppy, Willow.
A neighbor who called 9-1-1 reported the defendant was outside throwing the dog around and banging it on the ground.
The puppy, which was adopted by Leah Lind, the city prosecutor’s victims advocate, suffered a broken knee and a displaced hip among other injuries. The public outcry that followed news reports of the incident led to an outpouring of support and donations covered the costs of Willow’s first emergency surgery.
Lind recently wrote an update in the Facebook group “Saving Willow,” stating that people donated $5,000 for Willow’s surgery and care.
At previous court hearings in the case, people gathered outside the Greene County Courthouse carrying signs which called for stiffer penalties in animal abuse and cruelty cases.
Bolen posted bond in October and was released from jail pending court proceedings. Conditions of his release included being evaluated for chemical dependency and not having any contact with animals, according to court records.
According to Lind’s posts on Facebook, Willow has largely recovered from her injuries and is doing well.