A Concord resident (name withheld for privacy) has changed his mind about aggressive breeds of dogs, especially pit bulls. Before an incident 3 years ago, he was of the opinion that pit bull owners were problematic, not the animals themselves. However, when 3 of the 5 pit bulls he kept in his garage mauled his 2-year-old step-grandson to death, he was left devastated.
One afternoon, he was left in charge of the toddler, as his wife worked nights and slept during the day. That day in particular, however, he decided to play some tennis away from the home with his own son. The toddler was left with his sleeping grandmother, and no one to watch him or his young brother. Couple this irresponsibility with the fact that family members had already urged him to rid his home of the 5 pets out of concern for the safety of the young children in the house and this case became a prosecutor’s dream. The child wandered into the garage; the pit bulls attacked his face and nearly chewed off his arm; the child was already deceased when he was found a short time later.
The Judge determined in 2011, as has been decided in many recent Bay Area cases, that there was not enough evidence to charge with murder. In order for that to be the case, prosecutors would have had to prove that the pit bulls had previously been involved in violent attacks on humans. However, he has been charged with involuntary manslaughter (CA Penal Code 192(b)) and child endangerment (CA Penal Code 273(a)) and is currently facing up to 10 years in prison for what amounts to his thoughtlessness. Should he have been more cautious? Should he have locked the door to the garage? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes.” Yet, we have to wonder if he’s the only one to blame for this tragedy. Certainly, this evidence does not add up to murder.