NEWARK — An ex-con is facing more than year in a state prison after being found guilty of brutalizing a dog.

Lateef Dennis, 39, was convicted Thursday by an Essex County jury of one count of animal cruelty. The trial lasted a day.

Prosecutors say Dennis's Weequahic neighbor called police on June 20, 2016, after seeing Dennis beating his 12-year-old pit bull named Diamond.

Dennis was seen punching, kicking and stomping the dog before he was arrested.

“The verdict in this case represents more than just justice for Diamond, this verdict sends a message that the lives of all living things remain valued in Essex County," Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Lesnevec said after the verdict.

He faces up to 18 months in state prison when he is sentenced March 18.

Dennis has a criminal record that includes five convictions for aggravated assault, resisting arrest and drug offenses.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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