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Local News

Judge acquits man of felony charges over Channahon Chihuahua's death

Bartlett man ordered to pay restitution, veterinary expenses to owners

First he beat the Chihuahua, then he beat the felony charges filed in connection with the dog’s death.

Joseph Siwek of Bartlett was acquitted of two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty but was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of cruel treatment of Lola the Chihuahua.

Will County judge Dan Rippy said in his ruling Friday that he reviewed evidence and testimony in Siwek’s case. Siwek, 23, of the 1100 block of Charter Oaks Court, was charged with hitting Lola in the head.

Lola belonged to the family of Siwek’s former girlfriend, Audrey Mitchell. 

Rippy said he did not believe Siwek intentionally or knowingly tried to cause bodily harm to Lola. He said the dog did have problems with “being territorial.” 

“That being said, I don’t think you should ever strike a dog,” Rippy said. 

Rippy found Siwek not guilty of the two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty animals.

The charge alleged that Siwek intentionally caused Lola to die by striking her head.

However, Rippy found Siwek guilty of cruel treatment of animals, a misdemeanor charge that alleged he knowingly treated Lola with cruelty. 

Rippy sentenced Siwek to six months of conditional discharge. He also ordered Siwek to pay restitution to Lola’s owners.

Siwek will have to pay $800 for the cost of Lola and about $442 in veterinary expenses. 

Siwek refused to comment after Rippy’s ruling. His attorney, Nicholas Faklis, was satisfied with the outcome. 

“We’re pleased with the judge’s ruling,” Faklis said. 

On March 21, Siwek decided to waive his right to a jury trial and put his fate in Rippy’s hands.

On Sept. 25, 2017, police were called to Mitchell’s Channahon home in the 24600 block of South Tyron Street after receiving a report of a Chihuahua that had been struck in the head and was unresponsive.

Siwek was home alone with the dog while the family was out of town, Mitchell’s mother, Kimberly Mitchell, testified. 

Audrey Mitchell testified that she received a call from Siwek and heard the dog screeching in the background.

She said she told her boyfriend to leave the dog alone until she was able to come home.

Audrey Mitchell started to cry during the bench trial as she testified that she came home and found her dog “wrapped in a cold, wet towel.”

She testified that Lola was “very defensive” but was not an aggressive dog or the type of pet that would bite another person.

Audrey Mitchell said Lola had nipped Siwek in a previous incident when he got close to her and that he struck the dog on her head.

During opening statements in the bench trial, Faklis argued that the
evidence would show Siwek bore Lola no ill will.

Faklis also argued that Siwek put Lola in a sink to clean her own feces off her and the dog bit him as he was bathing her. He said Siwek slapped Lola in response and that her head hit the sink.

Kimberly Mitchell testified that Lola was so afraid of Siwek that Lola would squeal when he came to their door and would hide in fear beneath furniture.

She described Lola as a “tiny, tiny dog” with a “sweet deposition.”

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