Owner charged with murder after dogs kill boy

Police look over the scene where a 4-year-old that was mauled by four dogs, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) — The owner of pit bulls that dragged a 4-year-old Detroit boy from his mother and killed him was charged with second-degree murder, a prosecutor announced Monday, describing the attack as a “harrowing example” of reckless ownership.

“The evidence in this case will show that these dogs saw this child as a meal,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

Geneke Lyons, 41, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and possessing dangerous dogs causing death. A magistrate in 36th District Court returned him to jail without bond Monday over the objection of defense attorney Francisco Villarruel, who said the death of Xavier Strickland was a tragedy.

But he said the dogs were dangerous, not Lyons.

“Those dogs are no longer here,” Villarruel said.

Xavier was walking with his mother last Wednesday when they were attacked by pit bulls. Police had to shoot the dogs to free the boy’s body. Three were killed; a fourth was seized and euthanized.

“It is a gross understatement to say that this case is a harrowing example of irresponsible pet ownership,” Worthy said.

Separately, a civil lawsuit was filed by Xavier’s parents against Lyons.

“We get calls every day at our office about injuries caused by dogs with dangerous owners,” attorney Mark Bernstein said. “But this affects our region more profoundly — it’s the death of a child.”

Xavier’s father, Clarence Strickland, said he’s pleased that charges were filed.

“I want him to feel the pain my son felt when those dogs were eating him,” he said of Lyons.

Meanwhile, 55 miles away in Port Huron, police said three dogs were euthanized after the fatal mauling last Thursday of 22-year-old Rebecca Hardy, who entered a fenced backyard.

“We have no idea why she went in there,” police Capt. Jeff Baker said. “It makes no sense.”

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