A dog owner accused of murder appeared in court Friday to face charges his canines killed a 63-year-old woman earlier this month.
Pamela Devitt was attacked on the morning of May 9 by a frenzied pack of dogs on a Littlerock road in the southeastern Antelope Valley, northeast of Los Angeles. Devitt suffered between 150 and 200 puncture wounds in the mauling.
Six pit bulls and two mixed breed dogs were taken from Alex Jackson’s home hours after the attack, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Some of the dogs had blood on their coats and muzzles that matched Devitt's DNA, tests confirmed. The discovery led investigators to arrest Jackson Thursday on suspicion of murder.
Jackson, pictured below, was charged Friday with second-degree murder. His arraignment was postponed until June 14 at the request of his public defender, who was assigned Friday.
Officials with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office could not confirm whether the murder charge is the first involving a dog mauling, but said the office could not recall a similar case in the past decade.
Devitt's husband said the 63-year-old mother of two grown children began taking walks in the sparesly populated desert town for fun and for her health.
Benjamin Devitt said the couple had never run into a pack of dogs along the dusty roads near their home, just "friendly horse people and friendly walkers."
"That's what put her in the place she was in at the time [of the attack]," he said. "It was just taking care of herself by walking and staying healthy and wanting to live a long life for our family and herself."
A witness driving by the frenzied pack of dogs May 9 called 911 when she realized they were surrounding a woman. By the time a deputy arrived, just one dog remained.
Jackson's bail has been set at $1.5 million. If convicted of second-degree murder, Jackson faces life in prison.
A mother and daughter in San Diego were convicted of manslaughter in February after two of their dogs fatally attacked a 75-year-old woman in 2011. That victim died six months after the attack on Christmas Eve.
In 2001, a married couple in San Francisco was found guilty of second-degree murder for the mauling death of a 33-year-old collegiate lacrosse player who was attacked by the pair's two Presa Canarios, a dog breed that can grow as large as 130 lbs.