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Grandfather charged in grandson's dog bite death

In the preliminary criminal hearing of a 53-year-old California man alleged to be responsible for the dog bite death of his young grandson, the prosecutor argued that the defendant should be charged with second-degree murder. Under the implied malice theory as laid out by California law, the prosecutor argued, the fact that the man left the toddler home alone with five pit bulls that were known to be dangerous constitutes murder.

The fatal dog bite incident occurred just under one year ago when the defendant left the boy alone at home with his sleeping wife and the five pit bulls. The boy wandered into the garage through an unlocked door, where he was viciously and brutally attacked by the dogs. He bled to death before anyone realized what had happened.

The defendant was arrested and charged with child abuse or neglect and owning a mischievous animal causing death, both of which are felony charges in California. However, Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox has asked the court to add a charge of second-degree murder for the defendant's "implied malice", which he displayed by leaving the child home alone with five vicious animals.

When police interviewed the defendant, he stated that the pit bulls had a history of aggressive behavior toward both people and other animals. In addition, the defendant's wife told police that she had repeatedly asked her husband to get rid of the dogs because they were dangerous.

However, in court, the defendant's attorney claimed that his client had no idea that the dogs posed a threat. His wife also testified that she never told police that she asked her husband to give up the dogs.

Source: Contra Costa Times, "DA wants grandpa charged with murder for Concord toddler's death by pit bulls," Malaika Fraley, 29 June 2011

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