, Salem, MA

February 1, 2013

Man charged with attacking girlfriend, kitten


---- — SALEM — A Salem man was ordered held without bail after allegedly hitting his girlfriend and breaking her phone, then grabbing her 4-week-old kitten and threatening to snap its neck Wednesday night.

The kitten survived, and now Pershing Reid III, 30, is being held without bail. The judge also granted a request to add the kitten and the woman’s other pets to the restraining order obtained by his now-former girlfriend.

Under a recent change in state law, victims of domestic violence can ask a judge to bar abusers not only from coming near the victim but from contact with pets, as well.

Salem District Court Judge Matthew Nestor said it’s ordinarily something he hasn’t done but agreed to add the woman’s cats to the restraining order yesterday, “given the nature of the case.”

He ordered Reid held without bail for 90 days as a danger to the community, after finding “there are no conditions to assure the safety of the victim and, frankly, based on the police reports I read, the community at large.”

Salem police were called to the couple’s Boston Street apartment, where the victim’s mother also lives, around 9:30 p.m.

The victim told officers that she and Reid had been arguing when she demanded that he sleep on the sofa for the night.

He refused, she said, and when she told him to leave the apartment, he struck her in the face. When she tried to call police, he grabbed and broke her phone, she said.

Then he turned his attention to the kitten, grabbing it around its neck and saying he would break it.

“He was choking it,” the woman told the judge during her restraining order hearing.

Police arrested Reid on charges of domestic assault and battery, witness intimidation, and animal cruelty.

Prosecutor Lynsey Legier asked that Reid be held without bail, pointing to his decadelong history of violence. Legier also pointed to studies that show a link between cruelty to animals and domestic abuse.

Reid’s record includes convictions for past domestic abuse, as well as assault and battery on a police officer. In an incident in Wareham in 2003, he scuffled with officers attempting to investigate a complaint against his brother, according to a police report.

In 2010, Reid was charged after repeatedly punching his then-girlfriend, with whom he has a child. Police allege that as the woman in that case called 911 from a locked bathroom, Reid used a knife to open the door and again assaulted her.

He has been the subject of six separate restraining orders, Legier told the judge.

Reid’s lawyer, Paul Woods Jr., said his client was “off his medications” for a host of issues, including bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression, at the time of the incident and still has a bullet lodged inside him from a shooting.

But Woods urged the judge to release Reid on condition that he promise to take his medication, which will enable him to return to work at a job at Boston University, where he works through a temporary agency.

“How are we going to monitor that?” snapped Nestor, who granted the prosecutor’s request to keep Reid in custody at Middleton Jail.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.