The parents of a 22-month-old Missouri girl, who was killed in August by the family’s dog, have been charged with two felonies each in connection to the attack.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Derek Martin Solem, 32, and Sharon D. Williams, 29, of St. Charles County have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and owning a dog that bites a person, resulting in death.
Although police originally said no charges would be filed in the attack that killed Deriah Solem, the prosecutor’s office took the case to a grand jury and the couple was indicted.
“I know it’s a horribly devastating situation for everybody involved, especially for the parents, but we feel like we have to balance that against our responsibility to pursue what we believe we need to pursue.” St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar told KTVI News.
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The August attack occurred while Deriah was being watched by her grandmother.
The 58-year-old grandmother, who was not named in reports, is said to have just finished feeding a meal to the young girl and had placed her in a chair on the floor when the dog, a Staffordshire terrier, attacked.
The grandmother reportedly lost the tips of two fingers on each hand while trying to pull the dog off the girl. Police say the woman ordered two other children out of the house in case the dog turned on them. The two boys ran to get the help of a neighbor, who ran to the house and stabbed the dog repeatedly with a steak knife to get it to release the girl.
Deriah suffered multiple, severe injuries to her face, neck, back and stomach. She died of her injuries two days later at a nearby hospital.
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Lohmar said charges were bought because the parents knew, or should have known, the dog was aggressive.
“This dog had bitten one of the children in the home on a previous occasion, the dog also showed some very aggressive tendencies toward the victim child in this case,” Lohmar said. “So that’s what raised this to criminal liability on the part of the parents.”
Williams declined an interview request from the Post-Dispatch but did deny that the dog had bitten any of her children prior to the attack.
The 10-year-old dog had reportedly destroyed some of Deriah’s belongings and urinated on her laundry in the past.
The dog was euthanized after the attack.
Solem and Williams each posted $25,000 bail and were released from jail.