Great-Grandmother Charged with Second-Degree Murder
Serenity Garnett was killed by a dog while under the care of her great-grandmother.
Sentenced for Baby's Death
UPDATE 04/27/23: The great-grandmother of a baby girl killed by a large, muscular family dog in March of 2022 was sentenced to serve six years in jail and four years of probation. In total, Migdelia Guadalupe received 10 years on the charge of contributing to the dependency of a minor and three years on one count of possession of methamphetamine. Guadalupe had initially been charged with second-degree murder, but the grand jury did not indict her on that charge.
Guadalupe appeared by video at her sentencing. A trial was averted because she took full responsibility for her actions, which included delaying a call to 911 for 20 minutes after the child was brutally attacked by "Blade," an American bulldog with a history of aggression. When the dog attacked the baby, Guadalupe and an unidentified male were high. The male left after the attack. Guadalupe, who has a history of drug use, waited 20 minutes before seeking help for the child.
WRDW was in the courtroom filming during the sentencing hearing. The prosecutor explains the state's case and the events that occurred that day at 5:00. The family of baby Serenity gives emotional testimony at 20:01. Senerity's mother did not appear, but supplied a letter instead. The mother urged the court to sentence Guadalupe to the maximum amount with no possibility of parole. "I hope she sits in her decision to choose drugs over my baby girl's life," she wrote.
03/25/22: Great-Grandmother Charged
The great-grandmother of a baby girl killed by a large, muscular family dog earlier this week has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to her death. Migdelia Guadalupe, 56, who suffered lacerations and puncture wounds during the attack, was released from the hospital today and promptly arrested by police. Guadalupe was charged with second-degree murder and possession of methamphetamine, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
"There are additional details that led to these charges that will not be released at this time," the sheriff’s agency said in a statement.
No bond was granted to Guadalupe. Second-degree murder charges indicate prosecutors believe Guadalupe had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities. In Georgia, the charge specifically relates to children too. "Murder in the second degree involves the death of a person while committing the offense of cruelty to children in the second degree," states the Black Law Offices website. The Georgia penal code states this offense is "irrespective of malice" as well.
Guadalupe was renting the property, according to authorities, and was the only renter living at the home. The dog belongs to Donna Marie Mills, 58, who co-owns the property with her brother, Danny Mills, 55. Donna is incarcerated, and Danny Mills does not live at the home, authorities said. Online court records for Columbia County indicate that a warrant for Donna's arrest was issued on January 11, 2022. It's unclear how long Guadalupe had been living at the residence.
The WRDW article also confirms that "Blade," as seen on Donna's Facebook page before she deactivated it, is the offending dog. Previous incidents causing animal control officers to visit the home include: Blade being attacked by another dog in 2017 and first responders being kept from providing medical care to the owner due to the dog's guarding, also in 2017. Apparently, authorities were not notified after Blade killed a previous renter's small dog several years ago.
Blade Videos (2016-2017)
- Blade in the backyard of the home
- Blade in the front/side yard of the home
- Blade shredding fabric in the backyard
03/24/22: Clarifications, Previous Attack
News reports clarified that the child was under the care of her great-grandmother, not her grandmother, at the time of the fatal attack. The great-grandmother, 56-years old, suffered lacerations and puncture wounds in the attack. Her injuries were not life-threatening. The child was not breathing when deputies arrived. The great-grandmother was renting the property. The attacking dog belongs to a 58-year old woman who co-owns the property with her brother.
That woman, the owner of the dog, is currently incarcerated, but her brother "responded to the scene and was advised of the situation," states the police incident report. The child's mother arrived at the scene before the ambulance's departure and followed the girl to Augusta University Health, where her baby was declared dead. The great-grandmother continues to recover at the hospital. At this stage, investigators still do not know what led to the multi-victim dog attack.
WRDW had previously spoken to Tim Jardine, who lives just down the street. He's lived in the Columbia Drive neighborhood all his life. Jardine recalled a past incident when the dog's owner had a seizure. "My friend and I had to occupy the dog for them to get in there and get the woman to the hospital," he said, referring to the paramedics. His sister-in-law, Amanda Jardine, agreed. "It won’t let anyone come near anybody," she said. The canine remains in a 10-day quarantine.
The child's grandmother, Rosalie Rivera, told WJBF that she was the first person to learn about the attack. "I did not think it was this serious," she said. She thought Serenity was just bitten by a dog. "I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody. I know she was my granddaughter, but she was my favorite girl," she said. "I can’t imagine my life without her, and she’s only been in it for 7 months." The GoFundMe for Serenity, to help pay for her funeral costs, has raised over $13,000 so far.
Previously Killed Dog
After a flurry of horrific dog attacks reported this week in US and UK media, a commenter shared that another account was published about this attack. A woman who formerly rented and lived at 3701 Columbia Drive, said the same dog that killed Serenity, also killed her pet chihuahua and injured her. "It killed my dog, and it maimed my hands," she said. The woman chose to remain anonymous -- after all, the owner of the attacking dog, Donna Mills, is currently incarcerated.
The former roommate who is speaking out lived at Mills' home a little over three years ago. "She stumbled when she went to go feed the dog. The dog jumped this big, old board they had set up so he couldn’t get out or couldn’t come in the house, came straight down the hallway and snatched my dog. Banged her against the walls, broke her neck, broke her back. It was horrible,” she said. She described the attacking dog, who we suspect is "Blade," as a "huge dog."
03/22/22: Child Killed by Large Dog
Martinez, GA - A 7-month old girl is dead and her grandmother hospitalized after being attacked by a large family dog. The attack occurred at 3701 Columbia Drive at about 12:30 pm Tuesday. The baby, Serenity Garnett, was visiting her grandmother's home and under her care when the multi-victim attack occurred. The grandmother owns the animal. Both Serenity and her grandmother were transported to Augusta University Health for medical treatment, where the baby later died.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office described the dog as an American bulldog-Great pyrenees mix. Neighbor Steven Fox said the male dog "had muscles coming out the wazoo" and that the grandmother "didn't have the strength to deal with that dog." When he got out occasionally, it was very hard to get back," Fox said. At least two "Beware of the Dog" signs hung on a fence at the home. Thus far, no photograph of the dog, initially described as a pit bull, has been released.
Endless, Reoccurring Scenario
Followers of this blog know that this type of preventable fatal dog mauling to a child is an "endless, reoccurring scenario." A grandparent with one or more powerful dogs, most commonly pit bulls or rottweilers, that kills a visiting baby or toddler while under their watch. Steven Fox described the grandmother's relationship with her dog aptly. She "didn't have the strength to deal with that dog." Yet, she still kept the powerful animal and allowed it to be in contact with a defenseless baby.
01/30/22: 2022 Dog Bite Fatality: Rottweiler Kills 7-Year Old Girl, Injures Adult Female in Virginia
12/31/21: 2021 Dog Bite Fatality: Boy Killed by Dogs Being Fostered at Grandfather's Home...
10/19/21: 2021 Dog Bite Fatality: 7-Month Old Baby Killed by Large Family Dog in Tennessee
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.