DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - The owner of a pack of dogs that dragged a 4-year-old Detroit boy from his mother and killed him has been charged with second-degree murder, prosecutors announced Monday.
"The evidence in this case will show that these dogs saw this child as meal, and we believe that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged actions of the defendant in this case rise to the level of murder in the second degree," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a media release. "It is a gross understatement to say that this case is harrowing example of irresponsible pet ownership."
Geneke Lyons, 41, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and possessing a dangerous animal causing death. .
Xavier Strickland was walking with his mother on Baylis Street, near the Lodge Freeway, last Wednesday when they were attacked by pit bulls. Police had to shoot the dogs to free the boy. He was rushed to Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Three of the dogs were killed by police, following the attack. A fourth was seized and later euthanized.
Xavier was rushed to Children's Hospital where died of his injuries.
Separately, a civil lawsuit was filed by Xavier's parents, in Wayne County Circuit Court, against Lyons.
Lucille Strickland, who said she relives the horror of the attack every day, claims Lyons knew his dogs were dangerous but did nothing to keep the community safe.
She told WWJ's Sandra McNeill and reporters that Xavier was a joyful child.
"He never had a dull moment in his life...never, never," Strickland said. "He would greet you at the door. He would give you a hug, kiss you, 'Can I have some candy?'"
Xavier's father, Clarence Strickland, said he wants to see justice.
"The pain I feel, I want him to feel the same way. But he wouldn't ever because it wasn't his child, so he ain't gonna feel the way I feel in my heart," he said. "His 4-year-old boy didn't get chewed up by dogs, so he ain't gonna feel my pain."
Attorney Mark Bernstein says he pursued and won a $100 million judgement in the case of a man mauled and dismembered by 12 dogs in Detroit in October 2014.
He said this case has elements that are every bit as horrific, and perhaps worse.
"We get calls every day at our office about injuries caused by dogs with dangerous owners," Bernstein said. "But this affects our region more profoundly — it's the death of a child."
A magistrate in 36th District Court returned Lyons to jail following a brief court appearance Monday. No lawyer who could speak on his behalf was listed yet..
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