The South Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Bentley Collins in the dog bite mauling death of a 10-year-old Matthew Davis. In February 2012, Collins was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. He was convicted for involuntary manslaughter and owning dangerous dogs. Subsequently, the Supreme Court of South Carolina overturned the decision of the appellate court.
The victim was attacked by six dogs, mostly pit bull mixes, in the driveway of defendant’s home in November, 2006 in Dillon County, North Carolina. The partially eaten body of the boy was discovered by his mother.
Appellate Court ruling
The appellate court ruled that the trial judge erred by allowing the jury to view photographs of the child’s partially eaten body. The court ruled that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing this prejudicial an inflammatory evidence to be seen by the jury. As noted above, this ruling was overturned by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The presentation of these photos reminds me of the inflammatory photographs shown to the jury in the San Francisco dog mauling case. In this case, the photos were allowed into evidence. On the first day of trial, prosecution displayed photos of Diane Whipple’s mutilated body. The photograph showed Whipple’s body laying on a gurney in the morgue shortly after the attack. Understandably, some jury members turned their heads when the pictures were shown. Nonetheless, these photographs were allowed into evidence and apparently this was an effective strategy by the prosecution given that the two defendants, Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel were respectfully convicted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Read more about dog bite news in South Carolina.
Richard Polsky, Ph.D. provides animal behavior expert witness services for attorneys in South Carolina. Read more about Dr. Polsky’s background and qualifications on the homepage of this website. Dr. Polsky welcomes inquiries from attorneys in South Carolina.