Owner of dogs that fatally mauled 4-year-old charged with second-degree murder

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.

People gather during the candlelight vigil for Xavier Strickland on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Detroit. The 4-year-old Detroit boy who was mauled to death by pit bulls. Strickland and her son were walking to a school when the attack occurred. (Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press via AP)
People gather during the candlelight vigil for Xavier Strickland on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Detroit. The 4-year-old Detroit boy who was mauled to death by pit bulls. Strickland and her son were walking to a school when the attack occurred. (Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press via AP)

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.”

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s