Alex Jackson really did not have much of a chance when his case came before jury in California in August 2014. Jackson was facing charges of second-degree murder for an incident in which four of his pit bulls fatally attacked a 63-year-old Pamela Devitt as she was taking her morning walk in Little Rock California. Devitt lost nearly all of her hair in the attack, her skull and bone was exposed, and she sustained about 200 puncture wounds. Previously, I discussed this incident in May 2013 from my perspective as an animal behavior expert.
Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder in a trial that lasted about a week. Jury deliberation lasted only a couple hours. The evidence against Jackson and his dogs was rather overwhelming and probably justified the conviction. Sufficient evidence was presented at trial indicating that Jackson should have known prior to the mauling that his dogs could kill a person. For example, the dogs involved were a pack of pit bulls and they apparently roamed the area in antelope Valley California regularly as a pack. People testified that they were scared of the dogs. The dogs were involved in at least seven incidences prior to the attack on Devitt. Most of these attacks were directed to people on horseback, however.
Jackson took the stand in his own defense and showed remorse, and testified that he did not know about most of the previous incidences and that if he knew the dogs were capable of killing a person he would have gotten rid of them. He described the dogs as having a loving side to them. However, what may have sealed Jackson’s fate was that an animal control officer testified that Jackson told them shortly after the attack “if you mess with me, you’re coming into the den of lions.”
The area in which the incident took place, Antelope Valley California has long been known to be a dumping ground for dogs. Packs of stray, hungry dogs regularly roam free in the area where Devitt was killed. Los Angeles County animal control was well aware of the problem prior to the attack on Devitt. Apparently, they have been unable to control the problem, however. Moreover, they failed to respond specifically to the complaints they received about Jackson’s dogs. Accordingly, according to Los Angeles Times the husband of Devitt has filed a claim with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Subsequent litigation may follow. As a dog bite expert, I have been involved in other actions in which plaintiffs have succeeded in litigation against Los Angeles County because of their negligence in protecting the public from packs of stray dogs in Antelope Valley.