Owner of Pit Bulls that Mauled to Death Little Detroit Boy Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

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In a fatal pit bull attack case that triggered public outrage, a jury today convicted a dog owner of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a 4-year-old boy mauled by three dogs in December in front of his mother. 

The nine-minute-long attack was captured on surveillance video, which jurors viewed during the weeklong trial that included testimony from police, neighbors and the child’s mother, whose son was pulled away from her by a pack of dogs while the two were walking to a neighborhood school.

Geneke Lyons, 42, was also convicted of possessing dangerous animals causing death. He had been charged with second-degree murder, but that charge was dismissed by Wayne County Circuit Judge James Callahan the day before the jury deliberated, a courtroom official said.

Callahan told the courtroom after the verdict that, “In the court’s opinion, the defendant was overcharged … to begin with.” He allowed Lyons to be released on bond pending his sentencing, saying that his crimes did not pose a threat to the community. Yet he did forbid Lyons to have any contact with dogs.

Prosecutors did not agree with the decision. “We believe that our proofs showed proof beyond a reasonable doubt for second-degree murder,” said Maria Miller, a Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman.

Lyons’ sentence date is on June 30, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. The charge of manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $7,500. Family members and attorneys declined comment following the verdict.

Lyons also faces an ongoing civil lawsuit for damages that was filed on behalf of the family.

“This is just the beginning of problems for this defendant,” said attorney Mark Bernstein, who represents the estate of 4-year-old Xavier Strickland. Bernstein added that when compared with similar cases of dog attacks, “This is by far the most egregious set of facts I’ve seen in my career.”

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Source: Detroit Free Press | Daniel Bethencourt and Tresa Baldas