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Trials & Litigation

Man could get 10 years if convicted in pit bull mauling death of boy, age 2

Posted Aug 26, 2013 1:14 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A 55-year-old man is on trial for involuntary manslaughter in California, accused of criminal culpability in the death of his 2-year-old step-grandson, who was mauled to death by three of Steven Hayashi's five pit bulls.

The toddler wandered into the unlocked garage at the Concord home where the dogs were kept on July 22, 2010. A Contra Costa County judge must now decide whether Hayashi's conduct was criminal. He faces as much as 10 years if convicted, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The DA's case is all about the terrible photos and a terrible tragedy and that somebody's got to pay," his lawyer, David Cohen, told the newspaper outside of court. "This family and my client have suffered tremendously. He certainly didn't intend for this to happen."

It is unusual for such cases to result in criminal prosecution, the newspaper says, especially when family members are the victims. Additionally, because there is no criminal law specifically addressing human deaths caused by dog maulings in California, applicable legal standards aren't clearcut.

"We're missing any kind of a law that has to do with 'murder by dog,' or 'manslaughter by dog,' " attorney Kenneth Phillips of Los Angeles told the newspaper. He focuses his practice on representing dog-mauling victims.

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