St. Marys man charged with beating girlfriend

Casey Grove

A man in the Western Alaska village of St. Marys was arrested Saturday after he allegedly beat and choked his girlfriend and had sex with the family dog.

Thomas Tuning, 47, faces felony assault charges and misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, criminal mischief and resisting arrest, according to Alaska State Troopers.

According to the charges, Tuning's girlfriend of four years said he was drunk Saturday night when he attacked her in a home they shared. Tuning grabbed her by the throat and held her till she nearly lost consciousness. Tuning told her he was going to kill her and grabbed a machete, the charging document says.

Tuning had been drinking whiskey, a troopers spokeswoman said. It was unclear why he became violent.

"While waving the machete in the air, Thomas was telling (her) that he was going to chop her into pieces," the charges say.

Tuning then held the woman on the floor and pressed his forearm into her throat, and she was again close to blacking out, according to the charges. At one point, Tuning allegedly grabbed his girlfriend by the arms, shook her and ripped off the green shirt she was wearing.

Tuning then had sex with family dog, the charges said: "While Thomas was busy with the dog, (she) was able to flee the house, topless, and without shoes or socks."

The girlfriend ran to a neighbor's house, and someone called the local village public safety officer, who called troopers, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

When a trooper arrived at the house, Tuning was in bed. The trooper saw the machete and the ripped green shirt, according to the charges. There was a strong smell of alcohol, and a confused, apparently disoriented Tuning refused to get up, then pulled away from the trooper and made a fist, the charges say.

The trooper eventually used pepper spray to subdue Tuning and arrested him, the charges say.

The male dog, named Chaka, is a small, mixed-breed dog, Ipsen said.

"The dog was very aggressive and agitated and wouldn't let the trooper examine him," Ipsen said.

The charges were based on the trooper's interview with the victim, an examination of her injuries and evidence at the home, Ipsen said.

Tuning was taken to Bethel and scheduled for an initial court appearance Tuesday.

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