Owner of pit bulls that mauled child on way to school will stand trial
The Detroit man whose dogs viciously attacked and killed a 4-year-old boy late last year will proceed to trial on second degree murder and other charges.
On Friday, Wayne Circuit Judge James Callahan denied a motion Friday by the defense attorney representing Geneke Lyons to dismiss the case. Lyons, 42, owned the pit bulls which killed Xavier Strickland on Dec. 2 as the boy walked to a nearby school near Baylis and the Lodge Freeway service drive.
Defense attorney Francisco J. Villarruel said while “we don’t dispute that the dogs got out” the second-degree murder charge does not apply in this case.
“The problem is the charge, judge,” Villarruel said. Case law “requires malice. There is no evidence that the defendant knowingly created a high risk of harm to the public or anybody. He did everything he could to keep the dogs inside.”
Callahan said it will be up to a jury to determine whether Lyons should be held responsible for the boy’s death. The judge, who has seen the video of the fatal attack, noted modifications were done to the fencing so someone had to have known the dogs had escaped the yard previously.
Lyons is out on bond while he awaits trial May 31.
Callahan granted Villarruel’s request for an hearing on evidence about why police confiscated Lyons’ cellphone. That hearing is April 15.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Parisa Kiani told Callahan the contents of the phone were not seized.
During the preliminary hearing for Lyons in January, the boy’s mother, Lucillie Strickland, testified in court about the attack, which she said she’ll “never forget.”
“I had him in my arms, (and) the dogs snatched him from me and drug him from me to the fence,” she said, just a few feet away from Lyons. “They pulled him, took him from me and pulled him under the fence. They started biting and eating my son. I started screaming, ‘Help, help, help!’ ”