Saturday, February 19, 2011

3 children mauled, Fontana dog owners convicted

From The Kansas City Star

A San Bernardino County jury has convicted a Fontana couple whose mastiff and pit bulls mauled three young children a year ago.
Judith Mendez Lopez, 56, and her husband, Jose Lopez Gonzalez, 49, were found guilty Thursday of seven felony counts of allowing vicious animals to be at large. They face a maximum seven years in prison.
Five-year-old Destiny Colon suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung, her 7-year-old brother Hector needed over 200 stitches in his legs, and 8-year-old sister Princess needed 18 stitches.
One of the dogs was shot by a police officer and the rest were euthanized.
Prosecutor Kent Williams told the San Bernardino Sun the verdict was just. The paper said neither defense attorney could be reached for comment.

Update June 3, 2011 - The following article is by Mike Cruz, Contra Costa Times:

Dog owners sentenced in Fontana mauling

The owners of a pack of dogs that mauled three children last year in Fontana were each sentenced Friday to four years and four months in state prison.
The grisly attack, which left a 5-year-old girl on a ventilator with a punctured lung, torn flesh and an exposed rib, had the children's parents seeking the maximum punishment in Fontana Superior Court.
"All I'm asking for today, sir, is justice for my kids," the children's father Alfredo Colon told the court on Friday.
Sobs could be heard from family members of both the dog owners and the victims during the sometimes emotional proceedings.
Judith Mendez Lopez, 56, and her husband, Jose Lopez Gonzalez, 50, were both sentenced before Judge Arthur Harrison. Lopez was immediately taken into custody, while Gonzalez has been in custody since March 2010.
Both owners were found guilty on Feb. 17 of seven felony counts of having a mischevious animal that caused great bodily injury.
On Friday, Harrison denied a defense motion for a new trial.
The children - 5-year-old Destiny Colon, her 7-year-old brother Hector, and their sister Princess, 8 - survived the attack. But they are left with nightmares and scars, their mother Josephine Arellano told the court.
"I don't think my children will ever be the same," she said.
Prosecutors say the victims were attacked on Feb. 1, 2010, by five dogs - a 91-pound mastiff and pitbull mixes - as they walked along the railroad tracks on Tokay Avenue, south of Arrow Highway. The unlicensed and unvaccinated dogs left the backyard of the couple's home, via holes under a fence, according to prosecutors. Neighbors came to the children's rescue.
Destiny suffered critical injuries to her face, scalp, chest, neck and legs. Flesh was torn from her right side, exposing one of her ribs, and one of her lungs was punctured.
"The testimony (at trial) was very vivid that the dogs were pulling at the child," the judge said.
A dog chewed off part of Hector's leg, and he needed more than 200 stitches.
According to prosecutors, in 2006, a delivery man was bitten.
Given the dogs' nature and the holes under the fence, prosecutor Kent Williams alleged it was forseeable that harm would soon come. He referred to the dogs as "killing machines" and "tree-shredders on legs."
Lopez's attorney, David Currie, disagreed. He also said there was no evidence his client was home when the dogs got out nor that she had trained the dogs to be vicious.
The defendants had no prior criminal history.
Through Spanish interpreters, they told the court they were sorry.
"Unfortunately, I cannot change what happened. I would like to be able to do so," Lopez said. "I'm sorry for everything that happened."
Gonzalez said they have a heart and were not criminals.
"It hurts me to know what happened to those kids," Gonzalez said.

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