Ten-year-old Ajia Brown has undergone 17 surgeries and 54 other medical procedures since being brutally mauled by two pit bulls in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 2010, reports The York Dispatch.
On Tuesday, April 24, the boy relived that horrible attack in court. He began by telling Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock, "I went outside to catch fireflies."
Ajia and his mother live in Uncasville, Conneticut. They had just arrived in Hanover the evening of June 1, 2010, to visit Marjorie Nicholson at 415 Pleasant Street. Chester Little, 49, who is Nicholson’s son, lives in a separate house on the same property and owned two Pit Bulls. Around 9 p.m. Ajia went outside to catch fireflies.
The little boy told the Judge at the one-day, non-jury trial that he heard the dogs barking but Ms. Nicholson assured him they wouldn't hurt him. She then went to the other side of the property to water plants, he said.
"The dogs slipped out of the (fence)," Ajia testified. "They started jumping and licking me." But when one of the dogs bit him, he ran onto the porch. "They kept jumping up and I got overwhelmed," he said, so he held up his arms "like a scarecrow" to try to keep the dogs off him. But the Pit Bulls did not stop jumping and they became more aggressive. That caused Ajia to panic and try to run for safety. The dogs play then went into a full-blown attack mode.
Ajia’s mother, Elizabeth, testified she ran outside because she heard her son scream for help. "They were on their hind legs, biting his face," she said, so she scooped Ajia up into her arms and started to carry him inside, Elizabeth Evans of The York Dispatch reports.
But the Pit Bulls were not deterred by her actions. "They just kept coming after us, biting him," Brown said. "They wouldn't stop. ... They were going to kill him." Brown said she lost her balance and Ajia wound up on the ground, where the dogs continued to maul him.
"I scrunched him up as best I could and laid on top of him," Brown said. In the process, she was bitten in the face. Ajia testified his mother acted as a "force field" to protect him. Neighbors heard the dreadful screams and saw bloody attack happening. They distracted the Pit Bulls -- Angel and Midge -- so Ajia and Elizabeth Brown could run inside, according to testimony.
The neighbors had also called the Hanover Police, who arrived and shot Midge. By that time, Chester Little had taken Angel inside his home, one police officer told the court. When officers returned the next day and informed Little they would be taking custody of Angel, he told them she'd been moved to another property out of the area. He also advised them that his "official story" would be that only one dog attacked Ajia, according to police testimony.
Mr. Little maintains that Ajia teased and taunted the dogs and that he opened the fence gate to let them out, according to defense attorney Farley Holt.
But Ajia denied those allegations. Judge Trebilcock said he doesn't believe Ajia taunted or released the dogs. "These dogs were trying to kill this young man," Trebilcock said. "These are dangerous animals."
The defendant and his mother Marjorie Nicholson, and two of his former tenants all testified the Pit Bulls were loving and gentle with children. Judge Trebilcock stated that, although Little is guilty of harboring dangerous dogs, there was no reason to believe Angel and Midge were dangerous prior to the attack. "(Ajia) put out that scent of fear," the judge said. "It triggered something in the dogs."
Chester Little admitted guilt to two counts each of having an unlicensed dog and failing to vaccinate a dog for rabies, then was found guilty of harboring dangerous dogs. Senior deputy prosecutor Amy Eyster said she doesn't know where Angel is, and Little said, "I'm not going to comment on that," Little said. "She's safe and secure." He said he was told if the dog is out of state, Pennsylvania's dangerous-dog provisions can't be enforced.
Charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment were thrown out for lack of evidence. The judge also dismissed two counts of failure to confine dogs because Little had previously been found not guilty of them by a district judge.
BOY STILL FIGHTING TO HAVE A NORMAL LIFE
In the two years since he was viciously attacked by two pit bulls, Ajia Brown has fought to have a normal life, his civil attorney Thomas Newell said, "The medical bills alone are over a half-million (dollars)." His mother's insurance has so far paid the bills.
A large portion of Ajia's scalp was torn off during the attack, as were much of both ears. Ajia first received a skin graft on his head. Specialists at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut implanted expansion balloons on each side of Ajia's head, then used saline to expand the balloons twice a week until the skin had stretched enough for surgeons to cover his entire scalp, according to medical reports. Ajia now has hair on the top of his head, although he still has a very large scar.
Attorney Newell told The York Dispatch, the same expansion procedure was done so surgeons would have enough skin to reconstruct Ajia's ears. Cartilage from the boy's ribs was needed for that reconstruction. Ajia must undergo at least one more ear surgery.
"My biggest concern right now, frankly, are the psychological scars," Newell said. "He's been an incredibly resilient young man ... (but) one of these days it's going to hit him like a ton of bricks."
The Browns have not yet filed a lawsuit against dog owner Chester Little or the man's mother, Marjorie Nicholson, who owns the property. Newell said. "They have not received any (compensation) money yet."
Sentencing for Chester Little is set for May 2, 2012.
Photo Courtesy of newelllaw.com