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Thursday, July 2, 2015
Fatal pit bull attack victim, Norberto Legardo of Pecos, Texas. Image via CBS7.com.
Dog Owner Named
UPDATE 07/02/15: NewsWest 9 reported updates and clarifications just after 10:40 pm Thursday. At the time of the attack, 83-year old Norberto Legardo had been looking after his daughter's labrador while she was way. According to investigators, he was feeding the dog at his daughter's home on South Eddy Street, when three pit bulls belonging to a next door neighbor approached them. Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney believes evidence will show that a dogfight ensued.
"Mr. Legardo probably tried to break up the fight and then the pit bulls turned on him" - Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinneyOne witness told NewsWest 9 that all three dogs were involved in the attack. According to Chief McKinney, "at least two" attacked Legardo. Officials are still in the early stages of the investigation, gathering information, McKinney said. The attacked labrador was located near the residence by animal control. The dog is expected to recover from the injuries inflicted by the pit bulls. The owner of the pit bulls, identified as Oscar Rodriguez, gave consent to have all three of his dogs put down.
Texas Felony Dog Attack Statute
Criminal charges under the Texas felony dog attack statute could be at play in this mauling death, depending upon what the police investigation shows. The main dependencies include if the dogs' owner had knowledge of the dogs' vicious propensities (a previous bite) and/or if the pit bulls had escaped the owner's property before and threatened people. The growing body of case law of the 2007 felony statute, known as Lillian's Law, should provide prosecutors with sufficient answers.
Notably, not only did NewsWest 9 investigate the felony dog attack statute, they actually stated how many Texans have been killed by dogs in 2015, as well how many fatal dog attacks have occurred nationally. So far in 2015, four Texans have been killed by dogs in the following Texas counties: Hopkins, Dallas, Comal and Reeves. Nationally, dogs have struck down 16 Americans this year; 75% of all fatalities (12) involved pit bulls and 3 cases involved "unknown" breeds.
CBS 7 has also updated their earlier report, it too provides new information and clarifications.
07/02/15: Pit Bulls Kill Elderly Man
Pecos, TX - An elderly man is dead after being attacked by multiple pit bulls. Pecos police responded to a home in the 1500 block of South Eddy Street at 9:45 am Thursday. Several pit bulls were attacking another dog at that location when officers arrived, and a man was lying on the ground in the backyard. Officers were forced to taser and pepper spay the dogs in order to enter the backyard, according to police. EMS arrived on scene and determined the man was dead.
The victim has been identified as 83-year old Norberto Legarda.Pecos Police Chief McKinney said at the time of the attack, Legarda was at a relative's home, feeding their dog while they were away on vacation. Chief McKinney believes that while he fed the dog, the three pit bulls entered the backyard and began fighting with the animal. When Legarda tried to break up the fight, the pit bulls began attacking him. All three pit bulls were captured and euthanized. At this stage, police do not know who owns the pit bulls. The investigation is ongoing.
Texas Dog Bite Victims' Advocacy - Join our Texas email list to stay informed
04/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Family Pit Bull Kills Baby Boy in Dallas, Texas
12/12/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: San Antonio Woman, 83, Dies After Pit Bull Attack
04/15/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Comal County Woman, 75, Dies After Pit Bull Attack
03/12/13: Report: Texas Dog Bite Fatalities, January 1, 2005 to February 17, 2013
05/21/11: Texas Doctors Produce Study: Mortality, Mauling and Maiming by Vicious Dogs
Monday, June 29, 2015
Dog Kills Young Boy
Lawton, OK - In a developing story, a 3-year old boy was mauled to death by a dog Sunday morning. Jordan Charles Collins-Tyson was killed while visiting his great-grandmother's home, according to Pam Ramirez, a family friend. The dog, initially reported as a pit bull by KSWO News, latched onto the boy's neck, killing him. The child's body was transported to the state Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, Ramirez said. A family friend has started a GoFundMe page.
A later news report by Texomas.com confirmed the deadly attack was carried out by a pit bull. Lawton Police Captain Craig Akard said the attack happened at 9:00 am on the 500 block of Southwest 17th Street. A family friend was babysitting and watching Jordan "out the window" as he played in the backyard. When she looked again, it was too late. When emergency responders arrived at the scene, the pit bull was still being aggressive, Akard said. Police shot the dog.
There were two dogs in the backyard with the boy at the time of the fatal attack, according to the KSWO update. Jordan had been around the pit bull that attacked him Sunday -- executing the killing bite -- in the past without any problems. The news video sums up the reported scenario: KSWO was told by a person at the home, "the [pit bull] did not belong to anyone who actually lived at the house, but the child had been around the dog before without any other incidents."1, 2
2In October 2012, just 8-months after little Jordan was born, his father Charles Anthony Tyson was the victim of a brutal homicide. Tyson was beaten and shot to death with a shotgun on the front porch of his Lawton home. Jose Villanueva was later convicted of first-degree murder in connection to his death and sentenced to life in prison.
05/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 5-Year Old Boy Fatally Attacked by Pit Bull in Chicago
05/14/15: Criminal Trial: Babysitter Jena Wright Found Guilty After Her Pit Bull Brutally Killed...
02/23/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Family Pit Bull in Pittsburgh Suburb
09/11/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Family Pit Bulls in Miami-Dade County
08/08/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Aunt's Pit Bulls in Fanning Springs...
07/29/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by His Uncle's Two Pit Bulls...
07/22/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Under Babysitter's Care Killed by Family Pit Bull...
05/08/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Visiting Child Killed by Pit Bulls Owned by Friends in Felton...
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Anchorage Pit Bull Attack: Explosive Aggression, Immediate Unprovoked Attack, Executes the Killing Bite
The Mechanics of a "Classic" Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
Pit bull attack scene, Glencaren Court playground, and two men who helped rescue the child.
Anchorage, AK - Last Friday, a pit bull bolted out of a home and immediately attacked a 9-year old girl on a playground in Glencaren Court. The dog raced about 30-yards to the playground and latched onto the girl's head. While one man held onto the pit bull's collar, another man struck it hard with a crowbar several times. The pit bull eventually let go, but not before ripping off part of the child’s scalp. The dog then attacked both men until another man shot it in the head with a gun.
"That’s about the most scared I’ve been. Even when I was a firefighter, going into buildings that were on fire." - Rescuer Raymond PattersonThese elements, and more outlined below, are the basic mechanics of a "classic" unprovoked violent pit bull attack and why this breed is so dangerous. The only unusual aspect about this severe mauling is that three responding adults were men -- one a former firefighter -- and on hand quickly was a crowbar, pepper spray and firearms. Had this not been the case, the little girl might have died and there would have been more than one person seriously injured by the pit bull.
Video of Responding Male Neighbors
Before we dive deeper into the basic mechanics of a "classic" unprovoked violent pit bull attack, it is important to watch the web exclusive video by KTVA of neighbors Raymond Patterson, a former firefighter, and Jeremy Tui (scroll to see second video). Patterson witnessed the pit bull tear off the little girl's scalp -- he's still a little out of breath in the video. He also gives a blow-by-blow of the amount of force it took to get the pit bull to release. Tui is also present when the pit bull releases.
"The dog had ahold of her hair. What I saw, almost ear-to-ear, and it was being pulled down off of her scalp from her head." - Rescuer Raymond PattersonThe full video is transcribed at the bottom of this post. Please read the transcript to fully grasp a "classic" unprovoked pit bull attack. Then ask yourself these two questions. One: How many more would end in death without immediate human intervention, most commonly by law enforcement, trained and equipped to handle the task? Two: Why should any child in any neighborhood ever be exposed to this grave risk of injury? The pit bull problem is already 35-years old and counting.
"Classic" Unprovoked Pit Bull Attack
- The family pit bull suddenly bolts out of its home. The dog's owner is powerless to stop it for a range of reasons: lack of secure fencing, speed, strength or otherwise.
- The pit bull is instantly in full-scale attack mode. As soon as that door is flung open, the dog is in full-scale attack mode, any nearby person or animal could be its target.
- The pit bull immediately executes the killing bite. The pit bull latches onto to the girl's head, a purpose-bred bite to kill, and performs its ruinous hold and shake bite style.
- The victim screams to alert anyone nearby. Hearing the traumatized shrieking, nearby adults grab whatever tool they can find and rush to help the victim.
- Adults inflict serious or lethal force on the dog. In the Anchorage attack, one man repeatedly strikes the pit bull with a crowbar; another man pepper sprays the dog.
- The pit bull refuses to release its grip. The pit bull eventually does let go in this attack, but not before inflicting severe injury to the little girl's scalp and head.
- The pit bull is not finished attacking. After it releases the child victim, the pit bull then sets its sights on new victims. The dog just kept "coming and coming," Tui said.
- The pit bull is unfazed after shot in the head. Tui describes the pit bull after it takes a bullet to the head, "I'm like damn, and it was running, perfectly that way..."
- The pit bull has never shown aggression before. Pit bull owners always say they are "shocked" after a grisly mauling, and "the dog has never shown aggression before."
- No crime done. "It was an accident," police say. This is true in Alaska and many states unless there is evidence the owner knew of the dog's propensity to be vicious.
- No civil recourse for victim's injuries. Alaska is a One Bite state; the first mauling is often free. Even strict liability states fall flat when the dog's owner is uninsured.
A "menace" is not a proper term for these dogs, a "hand grenade" is. And there is still more. After an unprovoked attack on a child causing serious injuries, even after the dog escaped its owner's property, police are often the first to say, "No crime done. It was an accident." Criminal prosecution is often difficult because one has to prove a criminal mindset of the dog's owner. Top that off with no civil compensation for the victim's severe injuries and few other conclusions can be drawn.
Do what Aurora, Denver, Omaha, Miami-Dade County and over 700 other U.S. cities have done. Either ban or strictly regulate this dog breed.1When Patterson states the pit bull owner, "is a good kid," we do not doubt him. When Patterson states, "It's a pit bull. Those things are insanely strong. This thing is big; it's muscular. It has a neck probably the size of my thighs." Now we have a serious problem. He just declared what is self-evident about the pit bull breed and well known by the dog's owner, law enforcement, the courts and the public: These dogs are inherently dangerous. Ownership must be regulated.
Transcribed Witness Accounts
In the web exclusive video by KTVA, the two male neighbors give accounts describing the chaos, confusion and their resoluteness during and after the attack. The pit bull attack in Glencaren Court involved multiple guns and their owners too -- yet another interesting aspect. Anchorage police said that one handgun was fired once and shot the pit bull in the head. Tui could be referring to the pepper spraying, not more gunfire. This is not a full raw rolling segment. KTVA made some edits.
I get home, I live right across the street by where the fire truck is. I hear screaming. I thought it was kids playing outside, until I realized it was screams of pain coming from a little kid. I looked over, and I saw the tire swing moving. I saw somebody hitting towards the tire swing. I thought it was an older kid attacking a girl and then all of a sudden, I realized it was a dog.
When I got over here, the dog had ahold of her hair. What I saw, almost ear-to-ear, and it was being pulled down off of her scalp from her head. So it was serious injury. I think the majority of the blood that is on me is actually the little girl's...
I had barely gotten my door open. I threw everything and I ran over here. I know who owns the dog. The kid and I know each other. He's a good kid. So I come over and I grab onto the dog's collar. It's a pit bull. Those things are insanely strong. This thing is big; it's muscular. It has a neck probably the size of my thighs. I'm holding on, a gentleman from back over here comes in with a crowbar while I've got the dog's collar twisting, and he swings on that dog's head. Smacks him twice really hard. About that time the dog let go.
The little girl went running home. The boy went to help her get inside. Then the dog turned his attention on me. So I am sitting there, twisting with the dog going clockwise. At a certain point, I knew I was going to have to let go.
While the dog is coming at me, I am hitting, hitting ... I'm backing up trying to stay away from the teeth as much as I could. He starts lunging. I kick at the dog and he gets my leg. I'm going to have to go get a tetanus shot and get it all cleaned up...
The dog's loose, starts coming after me, I jump up on the equipment. The dog takes off. At that point, I run across the street, I grab my gun, come back over, and at that point, I was looking over here, there was a bunch of guys, other people who live here. I see somebody else with their gun ready to shoot the dog.
I'm standing right over here. I was waiting to see if the dog was going to try to attack. I was waiting for a clear shot. With work I have done, I have to know defensive, life and property rules, so I was waiting for a clear shot. I did not want it to accidently ricochet and go flying and hit somebody. So I was waiting...
The dog starts lunging, the guy shoots, hits the dog. I think he got him in the abdomen. The dog takes off running and goes over to his yard, so at that point we were all starting to settle down a little bit...
I was out trying to build a little something for my mom. I heard all of this screaming. I thought, "Oh little kids playing. Out of control, doing their thing in the summer." It just kept going on and on and on. Finally, when it was about 5 minutes, I was like, "I'm going to go check this out."
I lean over and I saw the dog, the girl's head inside of the dog's mouth. I was just like, "What?"
I jump over the fence. I immediately ran over here and that's when they pulled the head off of the dog. He let go. They ran after him a couple of times. The guy who had the crowbar, I grabbed it from him. I swung and I hit him. He ran away, I thought that was it. He kept coming and coming and coming after me...
He came at me for his last time, I swung the crowbar and as soon as I swung the crowbar it slid out of my hands. Man, it was crazy because when it slid out of my hands, the dog lunged to my neck. It lunged to my neck. It was a split second, I got out of the way and I pushed the dog off. That's when it got my arm...
It wasn't going to stop, wasn't going to stop. The guy came back outside, he had a handgun and he sprayed it two times. Once, and right away, he sprayed it again. It didn't lunge at me ... I begged him, "put it down bro, put it down." He was aiming at his head and BOOM. That did not even stop the dog. At the angle I was looking at, it looked like he got his head. I'm like damn, and it was running, "perfectly" that way...
I was very scared, but it was a little girl. I was like, you have to put that to the side and do what you have to do.
I took him, myself, another gentleman that lives here to get this attack stopped.
The Unassuming Heroes Among Us
It "takes a village" to save a child's life from a vicious pit bull mauling, and it also takes a hero. Every year, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission presents its prestigious medal to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The number of Carnegie Medals awarded to people who risked their life to stop a pit bull attack is overwhelming. The most recent recipient is Charles Jordan who saved the life of Monica Garza.
We salute Raymond Patterson, Jeremy Tui and the unnamed man who struck the pit bull with the crowbar, getting the dog to release. Without your lifesaving, heroic actions this little girl would have suffered even more devastating injuries and possibly even death. The DogsBite.org Community honors you as heroes. As of June 23, 2015 no additional information about the little girl's condition has been released. Anchorage Animal Care and Control took the attacking pit bull into custody.
05/29/15: 2015 Dog Bite Fatality: 5-Year Old Boy Fatally Attacked by Pit Bull in Chicago
11/14/14: Aurora Voters Favor Keeping Pit Bull Ban by Wide Margin in First General Election Vote
07/02/14: Dr. David A. Billmire, MD: "There is no need for Pit Bulls" - Cincinnati Children's
06/25/14: Total Chaos: Husband Recounts Violent Pit Bull Attack Inside Patrolled, Gated...
03/13/12: Fort Wayne Citizen Witnesses The Extreme Violence of a Pit Bull Attack
Monday, June 15, 2015
Historic Pit Bull Attack Survivor, Angela Hands, Seeks Out Fabulous Five to Honor Them and Say 'Thank You'
Still Searching for Nurse Laura, New Mexico TV Station Helps
The Fabulous Five from left: nurse Laura, chief surgeon Dr. Demerast, helicopter nurse Shelby, pediatric nurse Loretta and babysitter Betty who is married to former mayor, Felix Garcia.1
Help Find Nurse Laura
Albuquerque, NM - On March 19, 2014, DogsBite.org released the 30-year anniversary video of an historic pit bull attack victim. On that day 30-years ago, 9-year old Angela Hands suffered a life-threatening attack by four pit bulls. Her injuries were daunting, including her lower right leg gnawed to the bone and extensive flesh and muscle ripped away from her upper arms. At that time, doctors estimated she would require future surgeries until she reached the age of 35.
The attack was initiated by two younger pit bulls. The two parent pit bulls then scaled a 6-foot fence and joined the destructive, sustained attack.Less than 2-months after the horrific attack her small semi-rural community, the Village of Tijeras, enacted one of the first modern pit bull bans. The ordinance remains intact today. The 1984 Tijeras pit bull ban was soon challenged by a group of pit bull breeders. In 1988, the Court of Appeals of New Mexico upheld the constitutionality of the ban. This pivotal legal victory helped provide the legal framework for the Denver and Miami-Dade county pit bull bans that were enacted in 1989.
In the weeks following our release of the anniversary video, Angela contacted us. She said that on the 30th year anniversary, she celebrated by taking a 30-mile bike ride, "because I can," she wrote in an email. In a recent piece by KOB 4, Angela shares her powerful history and how she is now trying to locate the "Fabulous Five," she calls them. The doctors and nurses from the University of New Mexico Burn and Trauma Center (UNM) who saved her life and her right leg that March day.
"I had to find them," she said. "I had to at least reach out and say, 'thank you for being amazing.'" Angela has so far located four of the Fabulous Five. She continues to search for nurse Laura who called her Angie-boo and left sweet notes for her. KOB 4 discovered Angela's pursuit after seeing her Craigslist posting. Back in May, Angela posted an emotional appeal in the Community > Lost & Found section of Albuquerque Craigslist. "Please find my nurse! LAURA," is the subject line.
Please please please God, and CL help me find my nurse from the BCMC hospital in 1984.2 I was mauled by Pit Bulls on March 19th, 1984, and this woman was amazing to me. Her name is Laura. Sadly, that's all I know of her. I have posted her picture in hopes that someone recognizes her. She was my angel when I was a child, and she used to call me Angie Boo. Please share this pic on FB if you want, I am in desperate need. My heart has missed her all these years, and it would be such a gift to find her. If you repost this pic, please tag me, my name is Angela Moroco. Thanks a million. - Angela Moroco (formerly Angela Hands)Angela is now 41-years old and lives in the Seattle-area. In the Skype interview, Angela shows how some of her daunting injuries appear today. "I have scars that will never heal," she said, "I see them everyday." She desperately hopes to find nurse Laura, appealing directly to her, she says, "You have formed me into a very stable and confident woman and I owe a lot of that to you." So far nurse Laura has not been located, but we believe the KOB 4 segment will make this possible.
The Fabulous Five
Angela did locate nurse Shelby who treated her on the medevac helicopter en route to the trauma center. She reconnected with Shelby 31-years after the attack, which also fell on Angela's 41st birthday. The two picked up right where they left off. "We did not miss a beat," she said. She also reconnected with her chief surgeon, Dr. Demerast. He received word that Angela called while working with Doctors Without Borders in another country. Demerast called as soon as he could.
Also part of the Fabulous Five is Betty Garcia who was her longtime babysitter before the devastating pit bull attack. Angela said she was at her bedside at the hospital every day. She was discharged from the trauma center 38 days after arrival, facing years of rehabilitation and future reconstructive procedures. Betty is married to Felix Garcia, who was the mayor of the village at that time and the driving force behind the pit bull ban. Garcia is currently a city council member.
The last member of the Fabulous Five is nurse Loretta who was Angie's general pediatric nurse. She never mentioned anything about the attack, Angela said. "She always talked to me about my future," she said, "like I was just a regular kid, but that I was going to do amazing things." When Angela recently reconnected with Loretta she was surprised to learn that she is now a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Attorney Loretta is also trying to help Angela locate nurse Laura.
Angela's Mother, Her Rock
The Fabulous Five were an extension of Angela's mother, Donna Hands, who she calls, "her rock." Donna is seen sitting next to Angela in the anniversary video with Barbara Walter's voice in the background, gasping at how many more years of surgery lay ahead. Not only did her mother lovingly care for and oversee her daughters' lengthily recovery, she had to ensure her needs as a young adult would be met by filing the difficult claim against the relative who owned the pit bulls.
Donna also became part of the national debate about pit bulls. She fielded many calls after the 20/20 segment aired in the winter of 1986. Angela said she turned down the Oprah Winfrey Show, which debuted in late 1986, because it was so new and her mother wanted to stick to a hard news format. Notably, pit bull breeder Margaret Amacker,3 who challenged the Tijeras ban, sent Donna a $500 check while Angela was hospitalized. Her mother ripped it up and sent it back, she said.
"Have we sunk so low that the dogs' rights are more important than a child's right to go play in their yard?" -Donna Hands, December 19854The Departure Photograph
Last year, when we first spoke to Angela, she described a photograph taken just before she left the trauma center -- it was her exit day. She said that everyone who helped her at the hospital all gathered outside in front of the medevac helicopter, the same one that airlifted her out of Tijeras on March 19. We count nearly 80 doctors, nurses and other staff members. There are few words to express how mighty this photograph is and with brave little Angie standing front and center.
Angela said that a few weeks after she left the trauma center this helicopter crashed killing all members on board. She and her family were devastated. Nurse Shelby was not on the flight.
2BCMC, Bernalillo County Medical Center, was later renamed to UNM, University of New Mexico hospitals.
3,4A Breed Apart: Pit bulls Have Killed 12 People Since 1982, by Fred Bayles, Associated Press, Syracuse Herald-Journal, December 31, 1985.
03/19/14: 30-Year Anniversary of Historic Pit Bull Attack Victim and The Village of Tijeras...
12/16/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: Valencia County Woman Mauled to Death by Pet Pit Bull
09/12/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: 15-Month Old Girl Killed by Family Pit Bull
10/19/11: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: Four Pit Bulls Maul New Mexico Woman to Death
07/19/10: Pit Bulls, by Gary Wilkes: A 21st Century Depiction of the American Pit Bull Terrier
Friday, May 29, 2015
UPDATE 05/29/15: James Nevils III, 5-years old, and his sister, 7-years old, had been outside with the dog while visiting their cousin's South Carpenter Street home, according to a police report. When the mother let her children and the dog back into the home, and was locking the door, the dog latched onto the boy's neck. The mother tried to pull the animal off James then dragged both out onto the front lawn, hoping that neighbors would see the attack and help, according to police.
The mother and her two children had visited the home several times in the past. During the most recent visit, the three had been staying at the home for two days when the attack occurred, police said. The owner of the dog and boy's cousin, Kyle Hannah, was not home at the time of the deadly attack. Hannah had called, however, and asked the boy's mother to let the dog outside. What followed was a scene of bloody chaos as neighbors tried to free the boy from the pit bull's jaws.
05/27/15: Police Issue Two Infractions
The owner of the pit bull that savagely killed 5-year old James Nevils III late Memorial Day has been identified as 27-year old Kyle Hannah by CBS Chicago. The child's grandfather, James Nevils Sr., is appalled by the lack of any criminal charges. Police issued two administrative infractions to Hannah after his dog mauled the boy to death. "That’s all you get? My grandson’s gone forever, and all you get is two tickets? Yeah, I have a problem with that," Nevils Sr. said.
I'm not happy at all at that. I’m not happy at all. I expected something more than what they received. Two citations for a life? - James Nevils Sr.There will likely be no justice for little James, who is just one of hundreds of children killed by a family dog or while visiting the dog owner's home that go without criminal penalties. Many times there is no justice after a dog kills a person while off its owner's property too. In both cases, prosecutors usually have to prove the owner had knowledge of the dog's propensity to be vicious (a previous attack). Nevils Sr. hopes to raise funds so the family can pay for the boy's funeral.
05/26/15: Pit Bull Kills Visiting Child
Chicago, IL – A pit bull brutally killed a boy on the South Side on Memorial Day. Several witnesses intervened killing the dog, but it was too late. The Cook County Medical Examiner identified the victim as James Nevils III, of the 8200 block of South Escanaba Avenue. The boy was visiting the Auburn Gresham home on the 8900 block of South Carpenter Street when the dog latched onto his neck and shoulder, killing him. The boy was unresponsive when first responders arrived.
The lethal attack began inside the Carpenter Street home, according to neighbor Bianca White. “They were trying to drag the [the dog and boy] out of the house, I guess so people could help,” she said. Neighbor Marquis Lewis, 16, said he and his brother Le Mar, 19, started hitting the dog with a brick and a pole until the dog released the child. The teenage brothers beat the dog until it was dead, Lewis said. Neighbor Marco Clifton stabbed the dog with a pocketknife until it broke.
It had him around the neck, he wasn't letting go. He was just shaking him by his neck ... It was the scariest thing I ever seen. – Bianca WhiteThe child was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn with "traumatic injuries" where he was pronounced dead, according to officials. The owner of the dog was reportedly not home when the attack occurred and returned only after the dog was dead and the boy was being transported to the hospital, Le Mar told ABC 7 News. An autopsy determined the boy died of multiple sharp and blunt force injuries to the head and neck. His death was ruled an accident.
WGN News reported that the dog belonged to the boy's adult cousin, the owner of the South Carpenter home. Neighbors told the Chicago Tribune that James, his sister and mother were visiting the home when the dog attacked. Police cited the dog's owner for failure to license and vaccinate the attacking dog. The owner's name has not been released. The boy's grandfather, James Nevils Sr., wants the owner of the dog to be held accountable -- fat chance in Chicago.
Witnesses Describe Pit Bull Attack
Why are pit bulls so disproportionately responsible for attacks resulting in death? Because of the manner of the breed's attack, described so aptly by witnesses below. Pit bulls often attack without provocation or warning and latch onto the victim's neck or head and shake the victim until he's dead -- the dog executes the killing bite the breed was selectively bred for centuries to perform. Moreover, the pit bull often does not cease its attack until it is dead. SOP in a fatal pit bull attack.
Several witnesses intervened, eventually killing the pit bull that just wouldn't let go of the child ... A pit bull had grabbed hold of a little boy's neck and would not let go. "Boy 5, Mauled to Death by Dog in Gresham," ABC 7 News, May 26, 2015 (www.abc7chicago.com)
They saw the white pit bull with the boy in its jaw. Some of them ran to get objects to hit the dog, trying to force it to drop the boy. They say the dog would not let go and it was making vicious sounds... "Police: Boy mauled to death by dog on South Side," Fox 32 News, May 26, 2015 (www.myfoxchicago.com)
"It had him around the neck, he wasn't letting go. He was just shaking him by his neck ... They finally got him off, and the boy was sitting there lifeless. ... It was the scariest thing I ever seen in my life." - Bianca White ... The entire time the dog had a firm grip on James' neck and would not let go ... "It was just horrible." - Brandon Lindsey ... Another neighbor said the dog briefly let go of James but then "went back and grabbed the little boy." - Unidentified neighbor. Lolly Bowean, "Grandfather of boy killed by dog: 'Person responsible should be made to pay'," Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2015 (www.chicagotribune.com)
"It locked onto the little boy and shook his neck." - Marquis Lewis ... "The stabbing didn't even stop the dog at all?" NBC Chicago asked Clifton. "No. I broke the knife." - Marco Clifton Anita Selvaggio and Lauren Petty, "Boy, 5, Mauled to Death by Dog on Memorial Day," NBC Chicago, May 26, 2015 (www.nbcchicago.com)
Le Mar Lewis said the dog kept wouldn’t let go of the boy even though at least one neighbor was stabbing it with a knife - Le Mar Lewis. "Boy, 5, Mauled To Death By Dog," CBS Chicago, May 26, 2015 (chicago.cbslocal.com)
Five-year-old James Nevils was visiting a relative’s house Monday night, when the dog grabbed his throat and would not let go. "No charges for owner of dog that mauled, killed 5-year-old boy," WGN-TV, May 27, 2015 (www.wgntv.com)
04/29/14: 2014 Dog Bite Fatality: 4-Year Old Girl Killed by Family Pit Bulls in Bloomington
12/27/13: 2013 Fatal Dog Mauling Image of the Year: The Funeral of Ryan Maxwell
12/10/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: 2-Year Old Girl Mauled to Death by Dogs in South Chicago
03/10/13: 2013 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Year Old 'Visiting' Galesburg Boy Killed by Pit Bull
08/17/12: 2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Chicago Man Killed by Pit Bull(s) in His Home
12/07/11: 2011 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Dies Following Attack by Pet Pit Bull Last Month
01/18/10: 2010 Dog Bite Fatality: 56-Year Old Man Killed by Daughter's Six Pit Bulls
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Criminal Trial: Babysitter Jena Wright Found Guilty After Her Pit Bull Brutally Killed a Little Girl While Under her Care
Jury Verdict: Babysitter is Guilty on All Four Counts
Jury: Guilty on All Counts
UPDATE 05/14/15: After two hours of deliberation Thursday morning, a Jasper County jury came back with a guilty verdict on all four counts. Jena Marie Wright, 26, was found guilty of felony child endangerment resulting in death and felony neglect and abandonment of a child. This combination of felonies carries up to 35-years in prison. The jury also found Wright guilty of two misdemeanor counts of assault on a police officer causing bodily injury and interference with official acts.
On April 22, 2013, 4-year old Jordyn Arndt was horrifically attacked by Wright's pit bull while under her care. She died within 24 hours. At the time of the attack, Jordyn, her brother and Wright's young daughter were playing in the backyard. Wright was inside the home doing laundry. The state successfully argued that Wright knew of the pit bull's propensity to be vicious. Further, the jury did not buy a penny of the canine expert's $18,000 testimony put forth by defense.
KCCI News spoke with Jasper County assistant attorney Kelly Bennett after the verdict. "This has been an extremely emotional trial for me personally," Bennett said. "I just want to thank the jury for all their hard work, they had to sit through some pretty emotional, graphic and heart-wrenching testimony -- and I'm satisfied with the verdict," Bennett said. Just moments before the verdict was read, District Court Judge Richard Clogg reminded everyone in the courtroom to remain calm.
Wright's sentencing date is scheduled for July 13. She will remain in custody until sentencing.
We greatly thank KCCI, WhoTV and the Newton Daily News for their outstanding trial coverage.
05/13/15: Day 5 of Trial Coverage - Fatal Dog Mauling
An unexpected rebuttal witness for the prosecution eviscerated testimony from the canine expert today. Kristy Cockerham, a long-time friend of Jena Wright, testified that Brutus latched onto her wrist and Wes had to pry the dog's jaws open. Cockerham also testified that Wright hatched a plan to get rid of Brutus by taking the pit bull out to the country while her husband was gone -- Wright never followed through. Wes claimed in his rebuttal that his pit bull was "just being playful."
This worn out claim, "he was just playing" is a common denominator excuse used by pit bull owners to minimize aggressive acts and damaging attacks by their dogs. Caught red-handed lying through his teeth -- Wes' credibility is out the window at this point and so is Jena's. Cockerham is likely not the only friend that Brutus attacked, but the only one to come forward. Jurors can now see a little more into the mindset of "typical" pit bull owners: deviant, antisocial and perjurers.
Defense attorney T.J. Heir immediately objected to Cockerham's testimony, but District Court Judge Richard Clogg overruled her motion. In a desperate attempt of damage control, defense also made a motion for a continuance to allow the canine expert -- who flew out of Iowa at 6:30am this morning -- to return as a rebuttal witness. Judge Clogg denied this motion too. Following the unexpected and explosive testimony by Cockerham, the state began their closing argument.
Live Twitter coverage from KCCI | Follow @MTauscheckKCCI for the latest updates.
05/12/15: Day 4 of Trial Coverage - Fatal Dog Mauling
Defense gave its opening argument Tuesday morning. As anticipated, they trotted out multiple long-time friends of Jena Wright. Each provided glowing testimony about Brutus and how the pit bull would never harm a child. Greg Beerends even testified, "Brutus was like a big puppy." Despite the jury already seeing images of the dog soaked in Jordyn's blood. Another friend of Wright, Hanna Faidley, told the court that Wright would have never put any children in danger.
Defense also called Jena's husband to the stand, Wes Wright. He also testified that Brutus never gave him reason to believe the dog would attack Jordyn. While under cross-examination by prosecutors, Wes stated that he and Jena are now legally separated. Surprisingly, he also told the court while under cross-examination that he was comfortable with his daughter being in the backyard alone with Brutus, but that he was not as comfortable with Brutus around other kids.
When asked by prosecution if he would have more hesitation in leaving somebody else's child alone with Brutus, Wes replied: Yes.This rounds back to the critical issue that Wright was inside the home doing laundry when the deadly attack occurred, not watching Jordyn. Sydney Rinehart, a friend of Wright and former resident of the home, testified that the house has a large and "very thin window" in the living room overlooking the backyard, indicating that Wright still had a view of the children while inside the home. Wright has already admitted, however, that her own daughter first alerted her to the attack.
Wright did not see or hear anything initially, despite the grasping at straws testimony by Rinehart: "You could hear everything, even with the washer and dryer going," former resident Sydney Rinehart told the court. Defense also called Wright's mother-in-law, Robin Wright, to testify. Jena Wright was arrested at Robin's home one day after the attack. Robin was present during the arrest and testified that the defendant did not cause an upheaval while being taken into police custody.
Canine Expert Witness
Defense next called California-based canine expert Ron Berman to the stand. As demonstrated by the KCCI News Tweets, his testimony started with a big bang, beginning with Berman's claim that he has "worked with over 12-thousand dogs." One hot tipper sent in email upon seeing the Tweet and wrote: "I just love 'experts' who are reckless with the details." Subsequent Tweets include, "Says he has been certified as an expert witness 80 times." Then follows up with this humdinger.
How is one "not a gun for hire" if one has already been hired 80 times for the specific purpose of providing expert testimony? We already know the court allotted $18,000 to pay the expert, presumably with state funds. Initially Wright had been assigned a public defender. By December 2014, she had acquired a private attorney. Due to these circumstances, we imagine this is a "fair market" price for his services in this case. The judge allowed it to ensure a fair trial for Wright.
During a hearing Monday, the court decided to allot $18,000 retaining Ron Berman -- a California-based certified forensics consultant with expertise in canine temperament, bites and behavior … Judge Clogg was of the opinion that allowing the expert to testify on behalf of Wright would insure a fair trial. - Mike Mendenhall, Newton Daily News, December 9, 2014Berman concluded his multi-thousand dollar testimony predictably saying, "nothing in Brutus' behavior could have predicted the attack on Jordyn Arndt." Then cross-examination began, kicking court tension up a few notches Tuesday. After grilling Berman on his education and previous experience, prosecutors unveiled the undoing of his testimony. Berman had to state to the court that he had never even evaluated the pit bull -- Brutus was put down shortly after the attack.
The Newton Daily News provided more details, including that Berman stated: "Based on all the work I've done there's no evidence prior to this tragic incident with (Arndt) on April 22, 2013 that would suggest (the dog) presented a specific, unusual or serious danger to (Arndt) when she was left unsupervised by the defendant," Berman said. So, the "expert" claims that leaving a child alone with a dog that caused two neighbors to arm themselves with a deadly weapon is normal?
Berman told jurors he reviewed testimony of all witnesses in the case and interviewed state witnesses Richard Foster, James Billingsley, Tiffany Ewing and Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty who previously testified to their violent encounters with the dog. - Alex Olp, Newton Daily News, May 12, 2015Closing Arguments Tomorrow
Defense rested their case after testimony and cross-examination of the canine expert. There are two felonies at stake in this case. The first, which carries up to 25-years in prison, is child endangerment resulting in death. This charge requires proving beyond a reasonable doubt Wright "knowingly" acted in a way that created substantial risk to the child's safety by leaving her unattended with Brutus. Proving Wright had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities is critical.
The second felony charge of neglect or abandonment of a child, which carries up to 10-years, requires proving that Wright "knowingly and recklessly" exposed Jordyn to a hazard by leaving her alone with the dog. Though our understanding of this lesser charge is still gray, there is no doubt that as a babysitter, Wright had the duty to be watching this child, combined with the dog's known aggressive past and Wes stating that even he would not have left other kids alone with Brutus.
Closing arguments are expected Wednesday morning. The case is then handed off to the jury.
Live Twitter coverage from KCCI | Follow @MTauscheckKCCI for the latest updates.
05/11/15: Day 3 of Trial Coverage - Fatal Dog Mauling
Jasper County Prosecutors called a number of witnesses today, most of whom experienced a dangerous encounter with the Wrights pit bull prior to the attack that killed Jordyn Arndt in April 2013. For clarification, Jena Wright, her husband Harmon "Wes" Wright, their young daughter and Wes' father, Buster Wright, all lived at the 300 South Marshall Street home where the deadly attack occurred. Jena and Buster were at the home when the dog attacked, Wes was at work.1
The prosecution rested its case Monday afternoon. Defense begins its case Tuesday morning. A canine expert is expected to testify for defense.What became evident during testimony on Monday is that a number of people, including Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty, had experienced aggression from Brutus over a several year period leading up to the fatal attack. Further, the Wrights own veterinarian, Jim Walker, testified that Brutus on at least two occasions attacked an injured another dog in the Wright home. Walker treated the injured dog, named Buddy, both times. He shared Buddy's injury photos with the jury.
What also became evident on Monday is that two key testifying witnesses told Wes or Buster about the aggressive encounters, leaving the question open as to whether or not Jena knew about them. First up was Tiffany Ewing, formerly Tiffany Koder, who shared her dangerous encounter of Brutus with the media shortly after the fatal attack. She provided similar testimony in court today. In April 2013, Ewing described the episode with Brutus to the Des Moines Register as below:
Koder said her brush with Brutus came when she was pregnant and working at the Caseyʼs General Store in Prairie City. Harmon Wright was the store manager at the time, she said.James Billingsley, who lived across the alley from the Wrights, offered powerful testimony about the pit bull. Billingsley kept a baseball bat in his garage in case he ever had to defend himself against the dog. Billingsley was concerned every time Brutus got loose, he said. He told the jury about one incident where the animal came within 8-feet of him, growled and showed his teeth. "I wish I had the shotgun," he said. Billingsley expressed his concerns about the dog with Buster.
Koder said she saw Brutus near his home, walking on Iowa Highway 163, which runs through town. She stepped out of her car to see if she could shepherd the dog back into the fenced yard he had escaped from, she said.
When Brutus spotted her, Koder said, the dog growled, lowered itself into what she described as a hunterʼs crouch, and ran at her.
Koder said she jumped back into her car, slammed the door shut and drove back to the store to tell Wright what had happened. Wright brushed the incident off, insisting that the dog was “nice,” she said. - Jens Manuel Krogstad, Des Moines Register, April 25, 2013
Richard Foster, another neighbor of the Wrights, backed up Billingsley's claims about the pit bull. Foster told the court that Brutus would chew through the chain link fence that separated their two properties and get into his yard, threatening himself and his family. At one point, Foster even grabbed a gun to defend himself. "I walked around the front yard went to the neighbor's, yelled down into the basement, 'Get your dogs out of my yard before I kill them,'" Foster told the court.
The last witness of the day for prosecutors was Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty. He took the stand and testified that he and his wife encountered Wright's pit bull when he was campaigning in Prairie City to be sheriff in 2012. Sheriff Halferty told the court he was ready to draw his weapon to protect himself and his wife. He said the dog was growling, bearing his teeth and his ears were pinned back. An unnamed adult eventually came out of the house and got the dog under control.
Defense Begins Tuesday
Though the trial coverage is limited, we are still seeing the highlights. Not only was Brutus a problem dog -- apparently constantly breaking out of its owner's fenced yard and running loose -- the pit bull was also animal aggressive, attacking another family dog in the home at least twice, requiring veterinarian treatment both times, and created enough alarm in at least two neighbors that each armed themselves with deadly weapons at different times in fear of Brutus attacking.
All of the adults in the Wright household knew that Brutus consistently got loose, attacked other dogs and had dangerous confrontations with neighbors and strangers in the past. The prosecution does not have to prove the fatal attack was absolutely foreseeable. They do have to prove that Wright knew of the dog's vicious propensities and exposed Jordyn to the dog anyway. This exposure included leaving Jordyn and the other two children outside with Brutus unsupervised.
Live Twitter coverage from KCCI | Follow @MarcusKCCI for the latest updates.
05/08/15: Day 2 of Trial Coverage - Fatal Dog Mauling
On Friday, Jasper County prosecutors showed jurors graphic images of Jordyn's fatal neck injuries. These images combined with testimony from the trauma surgeon and medical examiner, who told the jurors that the injuries were consistent with a dog violently shaking its head back and forth, should have painted a vivid picture of the violent attack. The trauma surgeon, Dr. Cass Franklin, also told prosecutors that he had never seen injuries like it before in his 37-year career.
Prosecution: As a trauma surgeon, I assume that you've seen dog bite injuries before?Polk County Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Schmunk, who performed the autopsy on Jordyn, also testified on Friday. He testified that the lacerations were consistent to a dog attacking from behind. Jordyn likely never knew the killing bite was coming, nor would she have known if it had come from the front. Unpredictable attacks by pit bulls occur instantly. KCCI would not show the graphic injuries of the child, but they did show the pit bull covered in blood after the fatal attack.
Dr. Cass Franklin: Yes, several.
Prosecution: In your experience had you ever seen injuries like the ones you'd seen on Jordyn?
Dr. Cass Franklin: I have not.
Police Officer Testimony
Former Prairie City Police Chief Louis Modlin testified on Friday as well. Modlin now works for the Altoona Police Department. Video from his dash camera and audio captured by his body camera, just minutes after the vicious attack, were played in court. Wright is heard saying to Modlin, "My daughter came inside and said there's blood everywhere" and "he's never shown aggression like that." In the video, Wright describes to Modlin the moments leading up to the deadly attack.
According to Modlin's testimony, Wright told him the three children – the defendant's daughter, 7-year-old Aden Arndt and Jordyn Arndt – were playing in the backyard. She then left the residence to run to the store and told her father-in-law to keep an eye on the kids.2 When she returned, she checked on the children and went back inside the house. Minutes later, Wright's daughter came inside and said "there's blood." - Alex Olp, Newton Daily News, May 8, 2015Wright also faces charges of assault on a police officer causing bodily injury and interference with official acts, which occurred when she was arrested one day after the attack. Modlin, who was the arresting officer, testified that Wright kicked him multiple times in the chest as he tried to take her into custody. Modlin said the defendant was "not cooperative" and tried to get away from him, but fell down a staircase near a backyard door in the process. Modlin was halfway up the staircase.
"As soon as she fell down on the stairs she rolled over on her back and began kicking and she kicked me several times in the chest," Former Prairie City Police Chief Louis ModlinAmong the many atrocities that jurors learned today, what they did not learn details about (at least none were mentioned in the news coverage), may be even more haunting. Both Jordyn's brother and Wright's daughter witnessed the attack. All three children were outside with the dog when it latched onto Jordyn's neck and violently shook its head back and forth, causing a blood spray and killing the girl. The trial continues on Monday. The defense may also start their case on Monday.
Live Twitter coverage from KCCI | Follow @MarcusKCCI for the latest updates.
08/07/15: Fatal Dog Mauling Criminal Trial Begins
Prairie City, IA - On April 22, 2013, Jordyn Arndt, 4-years old, was brutally attacked by her babysitter's pit bull while under her care. She was airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines where she died of her injuries the next day. Hours after her death, Prairie City police arrested her babysitter, Jena Marie Wright, in connection to her death. This week, after over a dozen court delays, the criminal trial finally begins. Wright faces up to 35-years in jail if convicted on all counts.
The case hinges on whether or not Wright exposed Jordyn to the male pit bull named Brutus knowing of the dog's vicious propensities.Part of the court delays involves the expert canine witness for the defense. Last December, the court allotted $18,000 to retain Ron Berman, a California-based expert in canine temperament, bites and behavior. First, the expert needed more preparation time, later, he suffered injuries in an accident and was unable to travel, causing another continuance. Berman is expected to testify to the issue if Wright had knowledge of the dog's propensity to be vicious or to attack a person.
In February, the prosecution made their frustration about the many delays and the relevance of the expert canine witness quite clear. "The defendant has had almost two years to find an expert witness and it wasn’t until the last couple of months this was done," Kelly Bennett, Jasper County assistant attorney told the court. Bennett also questioned the necessity of the canine expert's testimony, given that the dog's behavior -- the dog ripped out the girl's throat -- is not in dispute.
"There is no question about the behavior of this particular dog," Bennett said. “Two years ago this dog ripped the throat out of a 4-year-old little girl.”Opening Day of Criminal Trial
The only issue is the behavior of the defendant -- and the defendant’s actions, what she did or did not do -- knowing at that point in time of the previous behavior of the dog." - Kelly Bennett, assistant attorney, Newton Daily News, February, 2015
During opening arguments Thursday, prosecution stated that Wright was aware of the dog's vicious tendencies. The pit bull had previously attacked another dog and Wright's neighbor kept a bat in his garage for protection against the dog. Jordyn's mother, Jessica Arndt, took the stand in tears. She and Wright had been friends for 15-years and attended school and graduated together. She admitted that she initially did not blame Wright. That changed after she learned more details.3
Carl Vander Kamp, who was among the first EMTs on scene, also took the stand today. He said that he arrived to "quite a bit of blood" and a child lying motionless without a pulse. "She had a large wound on her side of her face and also on what appeared to be the back of her head and some marks on her neck area," Vander Kamp testified. He said that from the time he arrived to when the child was airlifted to Mercy the child never showed any vitals or signs of breathing.
The Newton Daily News includes more details, including that the jury listened to the 911 call and saw bloody images from the aftermath of the attack. The attack occurred between the defendant's house and garage. One of the photographs showed blood spatter on the garage wall. Jasper County Deputy Jeremy Burdt, who responded to the attack, provided testimony about the blood splatter on the garage, explaining it was the result of a dog rapidly shaking its head back and forth.
The criminal trial is expected to last 5 days. DogsBite.org will cover each day. The jury of course will not hear about Wright's prior criminal history, unless introduced by defense. Two years before the fatal dog attack, Jena was arrested on multiple felony charges in connection to a marijuana grow operation. Those charges included a charge for neglect and abandonment of a child. In a plea deal, Wright pled guilty to one count of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.4
Partly why DogsBite.org is so interested in this case is because it involves a babysitter whose pit bull killed a visiting child that was under her care. This scenario appears over and over again in fatal dog maulings, primarily, fatal pit bull maulings. We are also interested in the testimony by the canine expert witness for the defense. What testimony will he provide and how much weight will the jury give it? Also, what questions will prosecutors ask the expert during cross-examination?
Consequences if Convicted
Jasper County authorities charged Wright with felony child endangerment resulting in death, which carries up to 25-years in jail if convicted, and felony neglect or abandonment, which carries up to 10-years in prison if found guilty. Wright is also facing a charge of assault on a police officer causing bodily injury. Wright allegedly kicked the arresting officer -- former Prairie City Police Chief Louis Modlin -- in the chest during a struggle while being arrested, an aggravated misdemeanor.
Some readers might feel sorry for Wright or believe the potential penalties are too harsh. The serious charges, however, are case-in-point about the responsibility a babysitter takes on when watching a child, a babysitter who also had three dogs at her home.5 Usually, in criminal cases like this, the negligence is more egregious, like in the criminal trial of the babysitter whose pit bull killed a 2-year old girl in 2003. In that case, the babysitter left the child unattended to "run errands."
Jena Wright was apparently inside the home when the deadly attack occurred. Jordyn and Wright's own daughter were in the backyard playing when Brutus viciously attacked the girl. During the 911 call made by Wright, she said, "She and my daughter have played outside with the dog numerous times. I don't know what happened." Jordyn and her brother, who was 7-years old at the time, had only started their babysitting arrangement with Wright about a week earlier.
Live Twitter coverage from KCCI | Follow @KStonge12 for the latest updates.
2 On April 22, following the attack, KCCI interviewed Wright's father-in-law, Buster Wright, who said: "I had no clue that was going to happen. That dog was in 7th heaven. Why he would do that? That kid had to do something."
3The little girl's mother is just as beautiful as her daughter. They are literally mirrors only separated by age. Stunning, tragic and forever haunting. Our heart goes out to Jessica Arndt. This was a tough day in court.
4By the age of 22, Jena Wright was already speeding down a runway to disaster. Two years later, her pit bull will kill an innocent little girl. Now she faces serious hard jail time. Her first and only "get out of jail free" card is gone.
5Information about the other two dogs is unknown. Maybe it will become known during the criminal trial.
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