Lawrence man gets probation in violent attack involving pit bull; 3 others still facing charges
photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World
One Lawrence man has been sentenced to probation after a chaotic altercation where he allegedly tackled a man, punched him and ordered a pit bull to bite him, and three others are still facing charges in the case, according to court documents.
Devontae Deshon Rae Torres, 24, of Lawrence, pleaded no contest in Douglas County District Court in November 2022 to one count of felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon — specifically, a pit bull, according to charging documents. On Friday, Judge Sally Pokorny sentenced him to 12 months in prison and suspended the sentence to 24 months of probation. She also ordered him to register as a violent offender for the next 15 years.
Torres originally faced two additional misdemeanor counts of battery, but those charges were dropped as part of his plea agreement.
A police affidavit alleges that Torres and three other men attacked Joseph Gill and Keith Allen at The Reserve on West 31st apartment complex, 2511 W. 31st St., on June 26, 2022. The other men charged in the case are Malachi Samuel Thomas, 22; Trevon Andrew Anderson, 19; and Isaiah Jawone Marby, 21.
Gill and Allen told police that they knew the four men, but not closely, and that all of them lived at the apartment complex, according to the affidavit. Gill and Allen told police that on June 26, they were playing basketball with a few other friends at the complex and noticed Torres with his dog nearby. Gill said he could see a gun tucked into Torres’ pants.
Then, Gill said Thomas, Anderson and Marby walked up alongside Torres, and all four of them started running toward Gill. Surveillance video from the apartment complex shows the four men chasing Gill, tackling him to the ground and punching him over and over, the affidavit says, and Thomas, Marby, and Anderson can then be seen moving away from Gill as Torres motions for his dog to attack.
Gill told police that as the dog was biting him, he could hear Torres yelling “get him,” according to the affidavit. And Allen told police that Torres was holding out a gun during the attack but didn’t use it.
The affidavit describes the attack in detail, as seen on the surveillance video. It says Gill can twice be seen breaking away from the dog and trying to climb a fence to get away — the first time, Torres pushes Gill to the ground, punches him repeatedly and gestures to the dog, which latches onto Gill’s arm. Then, Gill can be seen flinging the dog off of his arm and trying to climb the fence again as Torres, Thomas and Marby punch him and try to pull him down. After a few seconds, they stop and lead the dog away.
The affidavit also describes surveillance footage of the men attacking Allen. First, the affidavit says Anderson can be seen trying to punch Allen, with Thomas joining in after the other men stopped attacking Gill. Eventually, a woman who was playing basketball with Allen and Gill tries to break up the fight, and Torres hands the dog’s leash off to Thomas and hands Anderson an object that police believe is the gun, according to the affidavit. The footage then shows Allen and Torres fistfighting. After Allen lands two punches, the woman breaks up the fight again and Allen, Thomas, Marby and Anderson run away with the dog, the affidavit says.
Gill told police that he was treated at the hospital for injuries to his calf and that he had four lacerations from the dog biting him, ranging from a centimeter to about 2.5 inches in size, which required stitches, according to the affidavit. The affidavit didn’t say whether Allen was injured.
At the sentencing on Friday, Pokorny said Torres did not have any criminal convictions that would affect his sentence and that his charge fell into the presumed probation range of the Kansas sentencing guidelines.
Torres said Friday that he was sorry for his actions and that it was just a “case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time” and that he would never do anything like this again. He said his wife was in the military and was transferred from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Hood in Texas while he was in jail, and that he would eventually try to move there to be with his family. For now, however, he said he was planning to stay put until he’d completed his probation.
Torres was represented by attorney Adam Zentner and has been free on a $50,000 own-recognizance bond since Oct. 20, 2022.
Thomas, Marby, and Anderson, are all scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 19 for a status update on this case and are also scheduled for a preliminary hearing for another incident at the Reserve, in which they are charged with aggravated robbery for allegedly stealing liquor and beer at gunpoint. Also charged in that incident are Blake William Brown, 21, and Nasir Rahman Ali Penny, 20.
Torres was originally charged in that incident as well, but those charges were dismissed due to insufficient evidence, according to court records. The dismissal was without prejudice, which means the charges could be refiled.