Alex Donald Jackson, 29, was arrested and charged with the murder of Pamela Devitt, 63, who was mauled to death by Jackson's pit bulls. Police say that Jackson knew his dogs were vicious and had attacked before.
"We believe there was evidence that he was aware the dogs were vicious and they have attacked before and he knew of the danger they posed," District attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison told the L.A. Times.
Devitt was walking in the neighborhood earlier this month when she was attacked by a group of pit bulls. When a sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene, he found one of the dogs still attacking her and fired a shot. Unfortunately, Devitt suffered 150 to 200 puncture wounds and passed away on the way to the hospital.
Jackson owned eight dogs, and when officials investigated, they found blood on four of the eight dogs. They were promptly removed from Jackson's home, and Jackson was arrested on Thursday. He is currently being held on $1,050,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned today.
"There's no way I can get the brutality of this out of my head," Devitt's husband, Ben, told The Times. "The fact that there's animals out there roaming around with that kind of killer instinct, it's just kind of something I can't shake."
"I do not blame the dogs. I don't blame pit bulls," Ben told KCAL-TV. "I blame people who don't take responsibility for their animals."
Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Associated Press that he could not remember another mauling case that ended up with murder charges, except for the 2001 trial of a San Francisco couple whose neighbor was mauled by their dog.
In that case, owner Marjorie Knoller was found guilty of second-degree murder after her 140-pound dog killed neighbor Diane Whipple. She was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, and her husband was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
"If a dog has seriously hurt or killed someone, you have to look to the owner, and the owner should be held accountable on some level," Donald Cleary, a spokesman with the National Canine Research Council told the AP. "There's no reason we have to tolerate that kind of behavior."