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New charges, higher bail in bloody attack on woman and dog

Liz Evans Scolforo
505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

A man accused of attacking a York Haven woman and stabbing her dog is facing trial and additional felony charges, according to court records.

Jonathan Hibner, 33, of 617 Vander Ave. in York City, remains in York County Prison. At his preliminary hearing Wednesday, District Judge Scott Gross determined enough evidence exists for Hibner to stand trial, court records state.

Newberry Twp. Police said this 2-year-old pit bull was stabbed by Jonathan Hibner while Hibner was physically attacking the dog's owner.
(Photo courtesy of Newberry Twp. Police)

Gross also increased Hibner's bail from $75,000 to $200,000 — citing the severity of the charges against him — then set the man's formal York County Court arraignment for March 31.

Newberry Township Police originally charged Hibner with aggravated assault, simple assault, making terroristic threats, animal cruelty, burglary, criminal trespass and harassment.

At his preliminary hearing, police added the felony charges of attempted homicide and strangulation, according to court records, and all of those charges were forwarded to York County Court for trial.

Court-appointed defense attorney Heather Reiner said Hibner maintains his innocence.

The allegations: Hibner went to the home of former girlfriend Michelle Leister about 4:45 a.m. Feb. 10 and started arguing with her, but she was able to push him out of her house, according to Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder.

"He broke back in, and that's when the assault happened," Snyder said.

Jonathan Hibner

Hibner grabbed a knife with a 4- to 5-inch-long blade, put it to Leister's face and said, "I'll kill you if you called 911," charging documents allege.

Leister suffered numerous injuries at Hibner's hands, according to the chief.

Hibner slammed her face onto the floor multiple times, choked her hard enough to leave marks on her neck, used a knife to cut her thigh and stomped on her hands — leaving them bruised and bloody, according to Snyder. Hibner also cut off some of her clothing with the knife, according to police.

"There was blood all over the house, and there's a hole in the door where he must have kicked it in," the chief said.

Hibner also stabbed Leister's 2-year-old pit bull in the back leg, police said. She was taken to the York County SPCA for treatment and will survive, Snyder has said.

'Don't kill me': Officers were dispatched to Leister's home after the York County 911 Center received a hang-up call "with a lot of screaming in the background and a female yelling 'don't kill me,'" charging documents state.

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Leister ran outside when officers got there, police said.

After officers arrested Hibner, he tried to challenge officers to a physical fight, according to police.

"He was telling my officer he wanted the cuffs taken off so ... he could beat him up," Snyder said.

Sickened: The chief said the attack on Leister and her dog sickened him.

"How do you get to a point where you stab a dog?" he asked. "Or put a knife to someone's face? It's terrible."

Common themes connect domestic murders, experts say

Domestic-violence experts say some domestic abusers will hurt pets as a way to also hurt their human victims.

Newberry Township Police on Jan. 27 filed simple assault charges against Hibner and Leister for a domestic incident last month, according to court records.

But Snyder said his department will be dropping the charges against Leister.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.