Dog Owner Sentenced
UPDATE 09/18/08: The owner of the dogs that mauled to death two people last year, Cheryl Harper, 56, and Edward Gierlach, 91, has been sentenced. Diane Cockrell, 52 Iosco Township, was ordered to serve a minimum of 3 1/2 years to a maximum of 15 years in prison for allowing her American bulldogs-mixes to run free and kill two people in rural Iosco Township in 2007.
The MLive Michigan article reported that Cockrell shocked some people in the packed courtroom by saying she knew both of the victims and had spoken to them in the past. "I remember (Cheryl Harper) was just a light," Cockrell said. "(Ed Gierlach) was trying to teach me how to grow plants. He was a wonderful person, and I am just devastated to what has happened to all of you."
Members of the victims' families also spoke at the sentencing hearing. "My kid is now deathly afraid of dogs; I hope this doesn't affect her for the rest of her life," said Todd Harper, one of Cheryl Harper's sons. Todd Harper also read a letter his daughter wrote to the judge: "I really miss her hugs and kisses, her taking me to the pond to fish. She was the only grandmother I had left."
The judge has allowed Cockrell to delay serving her sentence until Jan. 2 so she can have a previously scheduled surgery procedure. Harper's sons objected, saying that by the end of the year they will have missed out on two Christmases and two Thanksgivings with their mother, but Cockrell will be with her family. The families also disagreed with the length of the sentence.
"I feel (Cockrell) deserved to get a harsher sentence. When you take a life away, I don't think three years, seven month is sufficient. I feel she deserved at least five to seven years." - Todd Harper
On the day of the attack, Cockrell was out of town. The dogs escaped her property and killed two human beings. A sign that hung on Cockrell's property read: "This property is maintained for the comfort and security of our animals. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THAT PLEASE GO AWAY."
08/20/08: Mandatory Jail Time
Livingston County, MI - A woman whose bulldog-mixes killed two people in 2007 has pleaded no contest to three charges. Diane Cockrell, 52 of Iosco Township, entered her plea today to two felony counts of keeping dangerous animals causing death and a misdemeanor count of allowing her dogs to stray. The plea isn't an admission of guilt but it will be treated as such for sentencing.
The prosecutor's office agreed to recommend a prison sentence of between 3 years and 7 months and 15 years. Each felony count carries a maximum of 15 years. Cockrell's sentencing in circuit court will be Sept. 18. Authorities say Cockrell's four bulldogs attacked 91-year-old Edward Gierlach in his driveway and 56-year-old Cheryl Harper nearby on September 13th, 2007.
Cockrell made a wise decision to plead; a judge recently ruled the jury could be shown the injury photos. Edward's son, Eugene testified in a previous hearing that his father's body was missing flesh on his leg, including a portion that was "just bone." A short while later, he saw what appeared to be a pile of debris in the road. It turned out that "debris" was the body of Cheryl Harper.
Here are other incidents of pit bulls attacking other dogs…in one case, a pit bull attacks a therapy dog as it is leaving the hospital after visiting patients…
Let’s hope for the maximum sentence.
Wow, little miss trailer trash mustered a couple of tears…
Suddenly, being a white trash bulldog-owning badass doesn’t seem so cool……
What was this woman doing with 10 dogs? She’ll have plenty of time to think things through when she is sitting in the slammer.
She better serve all 5475 days.
Maybe, now that the “it’s the owner not the dog” excuse has some drawbacks we won’t hear that one anymore!
The sign kept people off the property, but it did not keep the deadly dogs on the property. Let’s not forget that TWO people were KILLED in this attack. 3.5 years for TWO deaths? That debris that was in the road that ended up being Cheryl Harper? She was still alive when they found her. I pray for both of the families involved.
Court Docket: Settlement reached in fatal dog mauling cases
A former Iosco Township woman serving a prison sentence for the fatal dog maulings of two neighbors has reached a settlement in civil cases filed by the victims’ families.
Attorneys for the families of Edward Gierlach, 91, and Cheryl Harper, 56, declined to comment on the settlement, which was sealed by Livingston County Circuit Judge Stanley J. Latreille on Monday after the attorneys noted both sides agreed the settlement would be confidential.