According to The Associated Press, a pit bull owner whose dogs fatally mauled a woman walking near his house faces the unusual prospect of spending up to life behind bars.
Alex Donald Jackson, 31, faces a sentence of 15 years to life Friday (October 3) after he was convicted of second-degree murder last month in the death of Pamela Devitt, 63.
The retiree was taking a morning stroll in the high desert town of Littlerock when four of Jackson's dogs leaped over a fence and attacked her on a public street.
Pamela Devitt was alone, didn't have a mobile and no one was nearby. By the time help arrived, she had been bitten 150 to 200 times from head to toe and an arm that was nearly severed. She died from excessive blood loss.
Jackson was initially arrested when deputies searching for the dogs discovered a marijuana-growing operation in his home. He was later charged with 2nd degree murder when Devitt's DNA was found on his dogs' bloody fur.
The mauling of Diane Whipple in the hallway outside her San Francisco apartment in 2001 led to her neighbor's second-degree murder conviction.
COMMENT: A Michigan couple is facing trial on second-degree murder charges for the mauling death of a jogger in July by two cane corsos, an Italian mastiff-type breed, near their home about 45 miles outside Detroit.
The theory behind such cases is that the accused did something so reckless they had to know it was dangerous enough to kill someone--even without intending harm.
"His actions in this case show that he has a nearly psychopathic disregard for the lives and well-being of others," Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams said of Jackson in his sentencing memo.
Prosecutors in Los Angeles County Superior Court are seeking a term of 24 years to life in prison for the murder and convictions on weapon and drug charges. The dogs guarded Jackson's pot-growing operation and he knew the animals were dangerous, Williams said.
In Jackson's case and others like it, prosecutors have said neighbors and others complained that the owners' dogs were vicious and/or dangerous and that the owners didn't do enough to control the animals.
Nine other witnesses, including several horse riders and a postal worker, testified about seven frightening encounters. One equestrian had offered to provide free fencing and help Jackson put it up to keep the dogs on his property, but Jackson failed to accept the offer.
Defense lawyer Al Kim said Thursday (October 2) that the "nail in the coffin" for Jackson was that the number of other incidents made it hard to argue that he wasn't aware of the danger the dogs posed.
At trial, Kim conceded Jackson was a drug dealer, but also said he was a dog lover who took in strays that reproduced. While he should have kept closer watch of them, he never intended to hurt someone.