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LOCKPORT – The grandmother of a 7-year-old girl brutally beaten in a city home on New Year’s Eve said Wednesday that the man charged with attempted murder in the case was under the influence of drugs during the attack.

David L. Alfonso, 28, of Monroe Street, was under the influence of bath salts, said Maxine Townsend, also of Lockport.

“They give you tremendous strength,” Townsend said of the substances outlawed last summer in New York State because they were being abused for their mind-altering side effects, similar to cocaine and amphetamines.

Being on drugs was nothing new for Alfonso, according to Townsend, who said, “He was always high – always high.”

Townsend’s granddaughter, who will turn 8 next week, remains in Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. The girl suffered injuries to her throat, jaw, palate and teeth, losing at least one baby tooth in the attack, according to Lockport Police Detective Lt. Scott D. Seekins.

“She is able to get some nourishment through the mouth and swallow some. Children’s Hospital said she is doing remarkably well,” Seekins said

The girl lived in a house with Alfonso and her 27-year-old mother, who was Alfonso’s girlfriend, Seekins said.

Townsend, who lives about a block away from her daughter, said her granddaughter had been staying with her for most of the last two months because the girl’s mother had concerns about her relationship with Alfonso, which began in September.

Townsend dropped the girl off at the couple’s house Monday to visit with her mother and to get some clothes and the girl’s favorite pillow.

Townsend said she told her granddaughter that if she was attacked, she was to run out of her mother’s house to a neighbor’s home, and then to another if the first couple wasn’t home. Monday afternoon, neither of those friends was home, so the girl ran home and was taken in by Townsend’s downstairs neighbors.

She said the girl told her that Alfonso was seemingly trying to “dig” into her abdomen through a beauty mark on the girl’s side and that Townsend’s daughter grabbed a knife to try to defend her daughter. When the granddaughter escaped, Townsend said, “he was punching her in the face with one hand, and he had the other hand down her throat.”

Police found Alfonso at an intersection near the house, bleeding and noncompliant, and said they used force to take him into custody. He was treated at Eastern Niagara Hospital here and released to police.

At arraignment Wednesday, Alfonso pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder, second-degree strangulation and second-degree assault.

The prosecution had asked for bail to be set at a minimum of $500,000 and City Court Judge William J. Watson doubled the request, remanding Alfonso to Niagara County Jail after Alfonso failed to post $1 million bail. A preliminary hearing is set for Monday.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com and tprohaska@buffnews.com