Steven Hayashi, 55, of Concord, Calif., faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted of child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter in the fatal mauling of his 2-year-old step-grandson, Jacob Bisbee by three of his five pet Pit Bulls on July 22, 2010.
The defendant waived his right for his case to be heard by a jury, and Contra Costa Judge John Kennedy will determine his guilt or innocence in the trial that began Wednesday and will continue on a schedule of courtroom availability.
The prosecution contends that (1) Steven Hayashi knew his five Pit Bulls were vicious and that he should have foreseen the attack that killed the toddler; and (2) Hayashi is responsible for Jacob and his 4-year-old brother being unsupervised on the morning in 2010 when Jacob wandered into an unlocked garage where the dogs were kept.
Prosecutor Mary Knox told the court that the Pit Bulls had already killed two family pets and family members had begged Hayashi to get rid of the dogs and warned him that something bad would happen, reports the Contra Costa Times.
"But as he told his wife, the dogs were his, and the children were his step-grandchildren, and they should leave before the dogs," Knox told the judge in her opening statement.
Hayashi has stated that his five dogs were regularly kept in two separated packs, which were rotated between his garage and backyard.
The garage door was left unlocked that morning, and there had been no efforts made to childproof the doorknob, Prosecutor Knox said.
She also explained that the family had an arrangement to provide supervision of the children and Hayashi was familiar with it. While little Jacob's father, Michael Bisbee, was at work and his grandmother (Hayashi's wife Leticia) was asleep after working a night shift, Hayashi was responsible for monitoring and caring for the boys.
However, on the morning of July 22, 2010, the prosecutor claims, Hayashi left the children alone so he could play tennis with his teenage son.
Defense attorney David Cohen said that while Hayashi's actions show some negligence, it wasn't at the "gross negligence" standard that must be proven for a conviction.
Cohen also said that when his client left that morning he believed Bisbee, Jacob’s father, was in his bedroom with Jacob and his brother.
Cohen said the dogs had never bitten or attacked a person and, while Hayashi never left the children alone with the dogs, he didn't know them to be vicious animals.
FEMALE PIT BULL WAS ADOPTED FROM SHELTER – UNSPAYED AND PREGNANT
Hayashi said that he adopted the first dog, Sadie, from the Lake County animal shelter. She was supposed to have been spayed, but was in fact pregnant with five puppies at the time of adoption.
Hayashi said they kept two of the puppies--Kiwi and Jake--which he also left unaltered.
Kiwi then impregnated Sadie, and another 11 puppies were born. Hayashi adopted out all but two, C.J. and Max.
Cohen explained in Hayashi’s defense, "It's not easy to adopt out Pit Bull mixes" "Steven [Hayashi]was afraid, and so was (his teen son) Christopher that if he returned to a shelter, they'd be euthanized."
The three Pit Bulls that killed little Jacob were Sadie, Kiwi and Jake. However, all five of the dogs were euthanized after the gruesome and especially vicious attack that literally ripped the toddler’s apart and caused him to bleed to death.
The Contra Costa Times reports that, on Wednesday, the first witnesses went over the crime scene photos of Jacob’s small, mangled body. Hayashi, sniffling, asked to take a break to compose himself. The trial will continue on Friday
Source: Contra Costa Times