Wednesday, August 20, 2014
2006 Fatal Dog Attack of 10-Year old John Matthew Davis
Caroline Davis, the victim's mother, shows a picture of her son.
Supreme Court Reinstates Conviction
UPDATE 08/20/14: South Carolina's highest court reinstated the conviction of Bentley Collins whose dogs mauled to death a 10-year old boy in 2006. The state Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed an appeals court decision, which had overturned Collins' conviction and sentence for involuntary manslaughter and owning dangerous animals. In November 2006, six of Collins' pit bull-mix dogs brutally attacked and killed John Matthew Davis; his body was found in Collins' yard.
The Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that the trial judge had erred in allowing prosecutors to show the jury graphic injury photos taken by a pathologist who performed the autopsy. The Supreme Court Justices disagreed in a 4 to 1 decision written by Justice Beatty. The dissenter, Justice Pleicones, even wrote: "In my opinion, the only way we can educate the bench and bar as to that which is and is not beyond the pale is to publish these horrific photographs with our opinion."
Excerpts from state Supreme Court decision:
Justice Beatty: Respondent Bentley Collins was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of owning a dangerous animal causing injury to a person after a ten-year-old boy was killed and partially eaten by his dogs, most of whom were pitbull mixes. The State appeals from a decision of the Court of Appeals that reversed and remanded the matter for a new trial based solely on the trial court's admission of seven pre-autopsy photos of the victim. State v. Collins, 398 S.C. 197, 727 S.E.2d 751 (Ct. App. 2012). We reverse.Read: Decision in full
On appeal, the State contends the challenged photos, taken before the autopsy was commenced, accurately documented the injuries sustained by the victim in this case and, while graphic, were properly admitted in accordance with the trial court's broad discretion over evidentiary matters. The State argues the Court of Appeals (1) failed to give due deference to the trial court's decision, (2) erred in finding the photos were more prejudicial than probative, (3) erred in finding the photos were not material to the elements of the offenses charged and corroborative of other evidence, and (4) erred in making a purely emotional decision to reverse and remand for a new trial. We agree…
--- snip ---
In his trial testimony, Proctor explained that he did not normally take autopsy photos, but in his years of experience he had "never seen an attack by animals of this type, [so he] actually left the autopsy and went to [his] home and brought [his] camera back and took pictures for  documentation purposes." (Emphasis added.) Proctor found there was "tremendous traumatic injury to this young man" that was as "significant [a] traumatic injury as [he had] seen."
During cross-examination, defense counsel questioned Proctor's findings extensively by asking him whether he had surveyed the dogs' teeth marks to determine which dogs inflicted specific injuries, whether the boy's jugular artery was "actually severed," and which came first, the "shredding" of the boy's jugular artery or the veins in his arms, etc. Thus, the nature and extent of the boy's physical injuries as described by the pathologist were in contention by the defense…
--- snip ---
Under our highly deferential standard of review, we conclude, contrary to the Court of Appeals, that the trial court did not abuse its wide scope of discretion in admitting the pre-autopsy photos. The Court of Appeals's obvious revulsion for the evidence, while certainly understandable, permeated its legal analysis. The evidence was highly probative, corroborative, and material in establishing the elements of the offenses charged; its probative value outweighed its potential prejudice; and the appellate court should not have invaded the trial court's discretion in admitting this crucial evidence based on its emotional reaction to the subject matter presented…
--- snip ---
These are not ordinary dog bites with which most jurors would ever be familiar. Even the pathologist stated he felt compelled to document the injuries prior to the start of the autopsy because he had never come across a situation this extreme. Since there was no one else present at the time of the event, the photos aided the jury in evaluating the testimony offered by both the State and the defendant, especially as to determining the dangerous propensities of the dogs and whether or not Collins's conduct was criminally reckless...
04/15/14: Supreme Court Hears Case
The South Carolina Attorney General's office is appealing the Court of Appeals' decision to overturn the conviction of Bentley Collins in connection to the mauling death of a little boy. In 2006, 10-year old John Matthew Davis was brutally killed by six of Collins' dogs. In 2012, the Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge erred in allowing gruesome photographs of the boy to be shown to jurors. Collins was convicted in 2007 by a Dillon County jury and sentenced to 5-years in jail.
02/15/12: Conviction Overturned
The conviction of Bentley Collins in connection to the mauling death of a 10-year old boy in 2006 was overturned today by the South Carolina Court of Appeals. The Court ruled that Circuit Court Judge Paul Burch erred by allowing the pre-autopsy photos of the boy's partially eaten body shown to jurors. "Because we find the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the photos, we reverse and remand for a new trial," wrote Chief Judge John C. Few in the majority opinion.
01/31/09: Guilty: Sentenced to 5 Years
On Friday, a jury convicted Bentley Collins after about two hours of deliberating. Circuit Court Judge Paul Burch sentenced Collins to five years in prison for the manslaughter charge and three years each for two of the three dangerous animals charges, which will run concurrent to the manslaughter sentence. The third of those charges was suspended to five years’ probation, which can be reduced to three years if Collins pays $8,000 in funeral expenses to Matthew’s family.
Fourth Circuit Solicitor Kernard Redmond told Burch that Collins should get the maximum penalty for his crime because even after Matthew’s death, Collins owned unconfined dogs. Law enforcement officers have been receiving complaints about his animals since August. "The defendant still has pit mixes running around on his property," Redmond said. "It’s almost an act of defiance (and) disregard by the client. One would think you could govern your behavior differently."
01/27/09: Fatal Dog Mauling Trial Begins
Testimony began today in the case of a Dillon County man charged in the fatal mauling of a 10-year old boy. John Matthew Davis was found dead by his mother, Caroline Davis, after six dogs attacked him in the driveway of Bentley Collins' home. Fourth Circuit Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond said Collins is partially to blame for the boy’s death. Bentley faces one count of involuntary manslaughter and multiple charges of keeping unconfined dangerous animals.
Dr. Edward Proctor, who performed the autopsy on Matthew’s body, said the boy’s eyes, nose and all the soft tissue around his face completely were eaten away. "The jugular was essentially shredded. You could see the artery," he said. Matthew’s waist and legs were covered in dirt and grime apparently from the boy being pulled down and dragged, Proctor said. The photographs he showed the jury were so disturbing that one juror became visibly shaken and began to cry.
05/02/08: New Trial Date Set for Dog Owner
Dillon County, SC - A new date has been set in the trial of a man whose dogs authorities say killed a 10-year old boy November 3rd, 2006. According to 4th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Kernard Redmond, who is prosecuting the case, Bentley Collins, 53 will be tried June 16th on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of John Matthew Davis. The boy had been on his way home when he was brutally attacked and killed by a pack of dogs owned by Collins.
10/11/08: Fatal Dog Mauling Trial of Tanner Joshua Monk, 7 Years Old
05/16/08: 2006 Fatality: Second Trial Begins for Pit Bull Owner in Kansas City
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| 1/26/2009 7:25 PM |
How come you never hear about a pack of poodles attacking and killing a person? It's always a pack of bulldogs, pit bulls and, or their mixes. The only other dog breed you hear about in a fatal pack attack is the wolf-hybrid, and these dogs are outlawed nearly everywhere.
The pit bull, bulldog packs have been killing people since at least 1945. Why do people let it continue?
| 1/27/2009 4:10 AM |
The dog was stolen because the dog was worth money to dog fighters
And why wasn't that dog promptly euthanized? Did someone at animal control enable this theft?
If the community had dealt with this unlicensed dog fighter breeder properly, this killing would never have happened.
There need to some laws pertaining to dog breeders, because the dog fighters exploit the lack of laws and they flourish. And people die.
| 1/27/2009 11:50 AM |
According to older news reports, Collins was MIA for two days after the police issued a warrant for his arrest. During this time, all 6 dogs were being stored at the pound under a 10-day quarantine.
Just before Collins turned himself in, one of the dogs (the most prized we imagine) was stolen from the pound. At this point, authorities euthanized the remaining 5 dogs instead of keeping them alive for the 10-day quarantine.
[This is at least what we gathered by looking at sparse, older news reports]
It is unknown what happened to the stolen dog.
| 1/27/2009 11:54 AM |
Thank you for the info, bitbypit
I have read of some situations where it is believed that someone at the animal control shelter helped the dog owner steal the do, particularly if they were to be euthanized
Perhaps impounds should be immediately microchipped upon receipt. It would be great to have that microchip contain a tracking device, but that technology is well in the future I am afraid
| 1/28/2009 3:56 AM |
South Carolina seems to be fairly aggressive in pursuing Manslaughter convictions against these failed lion tamers.
I think they have gone after the last three failed lion tamers.
| 1/28/2009 10:28 AM |
It is beyond ridiculous to claim that these dogs killed the boy because they were "hungry."
Pit bulls and related breeds dismember. This is what they do.
When the dogs were killing chickens, the dogs needed to be confiscated as dangerous dogs. They weren't.
This county has blood on its hands for failing to cope with dangerous dogs.
| 1/28/2009 11:40 AM |
The latest article doesn't even mention the breed name. They must have worked REALLY HARD back in 2006 to carefully name the dogs "bulldog-boxer" mixes to the media. You don't STEAL bulldog-boxer mixes from a pound; you steal a pit bull for breeding or fighting purposes. This case is suspicious to be sure. You can smell the protection of these dogs all over the place...A pack of aggressive bulldog-boxer mixes (or rather pit bull-mixes), particularly if bred for the purposes of fighting hardly need the reason of hunger to attack and kill a child.
| 1/28/2009 8:40 PM |
Prosecution has rested its case:
Taylor Hayes, Collins’ son, testified each person in their family had a dog and each animal was well cared for. They had several dogs including his dog Sarge, Two Toes, Three Fingers and Cody who was “everybody’s dog,” Taylor said. Matthew was his best friend and the two would run in the yard with the dogs, he said, Cody would even jump on the trampoline with them. His father never mistreated the animals and would talk to them like they were human, Taylor said.
Hard to say what the jury will think of this one. They certainly won't forget the photos of the boy. Since the dogs attacked on owner property, it may be that the prosecution MUST prove the dogs were neglected...
| 1/29/2009 3:04 PM |
Unlike most of you, I knew Matthew. He would sit with me in church. I was in VA the day Matthew died. Bentley Collins should be responsible for his death due to the fact that he did not have a fence around his yard. I have been by his house on several occassions and I know his yard is big enough to house those 6 dogs, but he should have had a fence. For me this case is personal. Matthew was one of the sweetest boys I know. He left behind 2 older brothers and a younger sister. Some people are asking about the six dogs. The one that was stolen was the only female. If I'm not mistakened they were pit bull.
| 1/29/2009 4:10 PM |
Unfortunately, DogsBite.org did not come online until October 2007. We had to back track in Internet archives to find information about Matthew and there was very little to be had. The news accounts always said that he was attacked in Bentley's driveway. The articles never mentioned if there was a fence or not, nor did they mention much of anything regarding "restraint." This is the first time we have learned that Bentley did not even have a fence to restrain his dogs.
Given that the dogs have been called "bulldog-mixes" and "boxer-mixes" is a strong indicator that the animals were pit bulls or pit bull-mixes. These terms are frequently used to cover up the pit bull breed. Furthermore, the fact that someone stole one of the dogs from the pound is another indicator the animals were pit bulls. People do not steal "bulldog-mixes" or "boxer-mixes." People steal pit bulls, which have value for future breedings and fighting purposes.
Everyone here hopes that Bentley Collins is found responsible in this young boy's tragic death.
| 1/29/2009 11:01 PM |
UPDATE: DogsBite.org was told by a reporter today (01/29) that during the trial, the court clarified that the dog had escaped the shelter and was later found dead near a Dillon highway. We told the reporter that pit bulls were notorious escape artists. In fact last year, a pit bull crawled out of a 9-foot cage at the Leflore County Humane Society.
As soon as the trial ends, we will issue an update to the blog post.
| 1/30/2009 11:45 PM |
"The one that was stolen was the only female." A producer. Breeder. For his pit bull breeding business
What did the county think he was breeding those pit bulls for?
Jenn, unfortunately a fence is not enough. Pit bulls dig under fences, climb, or get out when someone leaves a gate open.
And the fact that these dogs were unspayed and unneutered made it all worse!
Pit bulls don't belong anywhere near children, adults, pets, livestock- which means they don't belong in our society.
There is no fence built that will contain dogs that will do anything to kill.
And pit bulls are bred to kill, no matter what the breeders and dog fighters say.
It is sad that your county does not have better dangerous dog laws. Those dogs should have been confiscated when they were killing chickens. Maybe people can get together and get those laws passed so another child does not have to die.
The county shares some guilt for this terrible death, which was preventable and predictable. These dogs had shown they had problems!
These dogs, for all the gooey stories, are not pets. They are breeding stock for a terrible business which the public has mostly learned about in the past few years.
And the people who own pit bulls are not considerate of others. They put other people and pets and risk.
| 1/30/2009 11:47 PM |
"This is the first time we have learned that Bentley did not even have a fence to restrain his dogs."
Big problem in many Southern states. There are no or few animal control laws.
| 1/31/2009 11:05 AM |
When will this county understand that this man is running a BUSINESS?
People knew that Michael Vick was involved in fighting and breeding fighting dogs for years. It was a business.
When questioned, he just used the usual "I'm breeding pets" or "they are show dogs" and the authorities look the other way.
These people are hiding in plain sight.
If there just were some rules for breeding businesses- some regulations, requirements, licensing, inspections- this kind of thing can be dealt with.
These people are also making massive amounts of money, not declaring income or paying taxes, and robbing their own communities and states.
They go to some of these southern states because there just seems to be an utter ignorance of what this industry is up to, or even authority figures involved in it
Innocent people and pets suffer!
| 1/31/2009 11:06 AM |
His neighbors need to get the video cameras going. They need to show the world what they are dealing with, and the inadequacy of local authorities to protect them
They have to fight for their kids' lives!!
| 2/04/2009 5:22 AM |
Well another mankilling pit breeding operation.
The Muncie piticide 2 months ago
The Roubidoux visting grandfather
The Taylor boy from last year
I'm sure there are many others. The Pit Community is not horrified for some reason.
| 2/06/2009 4:30 AM |
Appeal filed in dog mauling trial
NewsChannel 15 has learned a Dillon County man convicted in the death of a 10 year old boy has filed an appeal of his five year prison sentence and conviction.
Last week, a jury found Bentley Collins guilty of involuntary manslaughter and owning dangerous animals. In 2006, Collins' six dogs mauled to death, 10 year old John Matthew Davis as he walked home. Collins has asked to be released from jail on bond while his appeal is pending. No word on if that will happen or when his appeal will be heard.
| 2/07/2009 1:32 PM |
Convicted Dillon dog owner transferred to state prison
By Jody Barr
WBTW News 13 Reporter
Published: February 6, 2009
The Dillon man convicted of involuntary manslaughter and keeping unconfined dangerous animals in the mauling death of 10-year-old Matthew Davis in 2006 now sits in a state department of corrections facility in Columbia.
A Dillon County jury convicted Bentley last Friday after a five day trial after investigators said his six pit bull mix dogs attacked Matthew Davis. Collins spent nearly a week in the Dillon County Detention Center awaiting an opening in the state prison system.
Thursday, Collins was booked and assigned a temporary room at the Kirkland Correction Institution in Columbia. From there, corrections officials will assign Collins to a state prison within the next several weeks...
Collins’ projected parole date is Jan. 28, 2011 and his projected release date is set for Feb. 3, 2012, according to the state department of corrections.
| 8/05/2011 8:32 PM |
bentley collins is a monster an should have got life in prison,this is not the first time he has children,i am from kentucky an i no him well he is a monster an likes to hurt children.