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Old 10-15-2008
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Default A Long Time Coming

Couple gets 7 years after dogs fatally maul child New Texas law that holds owners responsible if their dogs injure or kill someone

Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Associated Press
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Texas couple whose pit bulls fatally mauled their 7-year-old neighbor were sentenced to seven years in prison, the first conviction under a new state law that holds owners responsible if their dogs injure or kill someone.

Crystal Michelle Watson, 28, and Jack Wayne Smith, 45, were convicted Thursday of a dog attack resulting in a death, a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The law says owners are guilty if their unsecured dogs injure or kill a person in an unprovoked attack off their property.

"I compared it to someone leaving a gun out in front of children," Stephens (Tx.) County District Attorney Stephen Bristow told The Associated Press, recalling what he told jurors during the emotional trial last week.

After the sentencing Friday, state District Judge Stephen Crawford said each defendant would be eligible for release on $150,000 bond pending appeal, which is allowed for certain crimes with sentences less than 10 years. Watson and Smith had not posted bail and remained in custody Tuesday.

Attorneys for the couple who live just outside Breckenridge did not immediately return calls to the AP seeking comment Tuesday.

Witnesses testified that on May 18, Tanner Joshua Monk walked toward Smith's and Watson's house to play with some children, Bristow said. That afternoon his body was found in a ditch surrounded by four pit bulls, about 100 yards from his home and about 70 yards from the defendants' property, authorities have said.

Deputies called to the scene had to kill two dogs that tried to attack them. Witnesses testified that when authorities went to pick up the other two, Smith turned over one but reluctantly handed over the other, saying it was an indoor dog although Tanner's blood was still on its coat, Bristow said.

The state statute enacted last year is called Lillian's Law after Lillian Stiles, 76, who was killed by a pack of Rottweiler-pit bull dogs as she tended to flowers in her Thorndale yard on Thanksgiving weekend in 2005.

After the death, her daughter Marilyn Stiles Shoemaker of Austin founded TxFADD, Texas Families Against Dangerous Dogs, to bolster awareness of dog attacks and pursue legislation aimed at placing criminal responsibility on owners whose dogs instigate unprovoked attacks.

Shoemaker and her father, Jack Stiles, then lobbied the Texas Legislature.

State Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, one of the bill's sponsors, said the law does not target a specific breed, the Temple Daily Telegram reported in Tuesday editions.

"The fact is that these attacks are happening all across our state, and many times the victims are children and the elderly," Gattis said. "What is especially infuriating is that these tragedies could have been prevented had the irresponsible owners secured their dogs."
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Old 10-16-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Brown Dog View Post
State Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown ... said the law does not target a specific breed... "The fact is that these attacks are happening all across our state, and many times the victims are children and the elderly," Gattis said. "What is especially infuriating is that these tragedies could have been prevented had the irresponsible owners secured their dogs."
Good God. A politician? Telling it ... like it is????? Slap me, somebody, I feel faint.

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Old 10-16-2008
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for once good news. Sad day for the family of the 7 year old. Im really happy with the statement of " we arent targeting a certain breed." put a smile on my face reading that.
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Old 10-16-2008
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I hope they stay in there for the full 7 years! That would be some justice for the parents
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Old 10-21-2008
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I was assuming they were sentenced to 7 years, one year for each year the boy lived....
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Last edited by kgill; 02-10-2011 at 10:13 AM.
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