Pit Bull Owner, Alex Jackson, Charged with Murder in Fatal Dog Attack on Jogger

| by Phyllis M Daugherty
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The owner of four pit bulls that killed a woman jogger in a savage mauling on May 9 in Littlerock, CA, was charged with murder on Thursday. DNA tests on Jackson’s dogs found blood on their muzzles and coats that matched that of Pamela Devitt, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. The coroner determined that the death of the 63-year-old woman was the result of being bitten 150 to 200 times, ABC News reports.

The warrant against Jackson also charges him with owner negligence of an animal causing death, said Jane Robison, of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. Since January authorities have received at least three reports of Jackson's dogs attacking other people, she added. He also faces charges of growing marijuana, which was found on the premises where the dogs were impounded by animal control.

A second-degree murder charge is warranted, Los Angeles County prosecutors said Friday when Jackson appeared in court for arraignment. Sheriff's homicide Lieutenant John Corina told The Los Angeles Times that authorities are aware of at least three incidents in which Alex Jackson's dogs attacked people or horses this year, in addition to the mauling that killed Pamela Devitt, 63. Jackson also had four other Pit Bulls seized and destroyed in 2006 for killing Emus, according to reports. His arraignment was postponed to June 14.

Some friends of Jackson are claiming that the Pit Bulls involved in the fatal attack on Devitt are not Jackson's dogs. One said they were merely strays Jackson took in. Legal observers have commented that proving ownership of the dogs is important but it appears that prosecutors are focusing on establishing a pattern of reckless and irresponsible behavior in maintaining dogs, which led to the vicious attack and death of Devitt on May 9.

Marcia Mayeda, Director of L.A. County Animal Care & Control said not all of Alex Jackson’s dogs are licensed and spayed or neutered as required by County and State law.

Jackson was originally arrested shortly after the death of Devitt but was released on bail pending DNA testing results to determine if the blood on his dogs matched that of the victim. He is now being held on $1 million bail, the Associated Press reports.

The 63-year-old woman was jogging near her Littlerock, California, home on Thursday morning, May 9, when she was attacked and killed by four loose Pit Bulls, believed to by the dogs later found at Jackson's nearby home. The victim’s identity was not immediately disclosed by authorities.

Littlerock is a small, unincorporated area near Palmdale in the Antelope Valley, approximately 65 miles northeast of the city of Los Angeles. At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station received a 911 call from a motorist to report that a woman was being attacked by four dogs by the side of the road at 116th Street East and Avenue S in Littlerock. The witness said she continuously honked her horn to try to get the dogs to stop mauling the victim.

When a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene a few minutes later, he found the woman being attacked by one Pit Bull, which repeatedly circled and moved aggressively toward him as he approached. The deputy said the dog even tried to attack his car. He fired his handgun twice at the animal, apparently missing, before it ran into the desert. There was no sign of the other three dogs at that time.

The victim died in the ambulance while being rushed to a nearby hospital. Parker told reporters. (Read more 4 Pit Bulls Attack, Fatally Maul Female Jogger in Los Angeles County)

KFI Radio's John & Ken interviewed the victim's husband, Ben, on their radio show on Friday, May 10. Ben said he and Pamela Marie had been married for 43 years. He described his wife as loving to grow things and spending most of her time gardening. She also enjoyed going with him to auto races. He said she jogged and walked daily to keep fit and prolong a healthy life and he often joined her. They had intentionally chosen a route that did not have a lot of homes with unruly dogs, jumping on fences, etc. She was walking on that route when she was attacked by the Pit Bulls. They had lived in the area for seven years, he told John & Ken.

On Thursday, Ben said he was at work when the vicious attack occurred. He said as he drove home he saw the emergency vehicles and fire trucks at the end of the street where it happened and was sorry that someone had experienced some kind of problem--never dreaming it was Pamela. Soon a Sheriff's deputy knocked on his door and said they were canvassing the neighborhood trying to identify someone. He showed Ben Devitt his wife's I-Pod. She was not carrying any other identification. Mr. Devitt said his wife was his "best friend."

Ben Devitt also told John & Ken, "I do not blame the dogs. I blame people who don't take responsibility for their animals."

Pit Bull advocates insist after tragic attacks that there are "no bad dogs, only irresponsible owners." They should be very pleased with how this case is being handled. Law-enforcement officials and the District Attorney are placing the blame and seeking the punishment of a person they contend has not acted responsibly as a dog owner.

Owners are increasingly being held accountable for their dogs’ actions financially and should also be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if their failure to properly control their dogs causes fear, pain and suffering, or death to another animal or a human. Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey should be commended for treating this incident as a deliberate (and preventable) act, rather than just a “tragic accident.”

Sources: ABC

4 Pit Bulls Attack, Fatally Maul Female Jogger in Los Angeles County