California Man Charged With Murder In Pit Bull Attack

20130530__LDN-L-PIT-BULL-OWNER-ALAN-JACKSON31As previously discussed California’s infamous Knoller case involving a vicious dog attack and the sentencing of two lawyers for the death of a young woman coming home from a jog. Now, the owner of four pit bulls has been charged with the murder of a jogger with the use of DNA testing of the blood found on their snouts. Alex Johnson, 29, will stand trial in the death of Pamela Dewitt, 63, who was bitted 150 to 200 times by his pit bulls.

Police arrested Jackson immediately after the attack but released him pending the outcome of the DNA case. It is an example of how DNA (once treated as a rare, expensive process) is now being using in so many different aspects of our criminal justice system.

Working against Jackson are prior reports of his dogs attacking or threatening people, another striking similarity with earlier cases. Notably, a deputy arrived at the scene during the attack and tried to drive off the dogs, which attacked the deputy. Police later took away eight dogs from Jackson’s home, including six pit bulls and two mixed-breeds.

180px-Pit_bull_restrainedThe common law treats these cases under a strict liability standard. An owner is strictly liable for a dog with known vicious tendencies. This is sometimes called (inartfully) the “one free bite rule” since after the first bite, an owner has obvious knowledge. However, it sometimes does not require a bite to have such knowledge. Indeed, these laws can serve as such warnings.

One of the most infamous cases involved two lawyers. Lawyers Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel were successfully prosecuted after their huge “Presa Canario” dogs mauled and killed neighbor, Diane Whipple, in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment building in January 2001. Whipple was bitten 77 times and the dogs nearly severed her vertebrae.

Jurors found Marjorie Knoller’s husband, Robert Noel, guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and found Knoller guilty of second-degree murder.

The common law rule also applies to wild animals. Defining some animals as wild can be done with reference to statutes or the lack of animus revertendi (the habit of return). The most common category in the United States is the possession of wolves or part-wolf animals as pets.

This is a classic case for both tort and criminal law. The Knollers faced both forms of liability. Some towns have either banned or classified pit bulls as dangerous animals. In a move that is likely to become a trend, Tennessee is moving to require a minimum of $25,000 insurance policies for anyone possessing a pit bull or vicious dog. In another area, a woman reportedly lost her insurance coverage due to the ownership of a pit bull.

Jackson is facing life in prison if convicted.

29 thoughts on “California Man Charged With Murder In Pit Bull Attack”

  1. I think the discrimination against Pitt bulls has its analogy with pedophile catholic priests. Not all preachers are pedophiles. Most preachers who are pedophiles are catholic priests. So I think that the danger of pedophile priests is worse than the danger of Pitt bulls. So I say outlaw all catholic priests because we don’t know which ones will be dangerous. Whats the difference between pedophile priests, all priests and bad Pitt bulls and all Pitt bulls.

  2. If Hitler had outlawed Poodles perhaps we would have some precedents from the Nuremburg War Trials. Some of you folks go along with the Aryan Race thing when it comes to dog specie. Too bad, so sad. When it is your turn to meet your maker at the Pearly Gates do not go for the interview on a Wednesday. That is when Saint Peter plays golf and has a stand-in to make Heaven or Hell decisions. Sometimes he choses a dog. Beware or be square.

  3. I work as a community health nurse and I’ve seen Pit Bulls in the hood mistreated by their owners- forced to walk the streets with enormous thick chains around their necks. I’ve seen them with eyes and ears missing and their bones sticking through their skin. I’ve seen heaps of dead cats mangled like they were put into a blender and told when I inquired that the cats were strays used to make Pits mean. Dogs are man’s best friend. why are some humans so cruel when all a dog wants is to love and protect you.

  4. typical nigger causing death to incredible animals …… im sure he used these dogs to fight for financial gain of course…….. hope this guys raped and killed in prison, poor dogs……….

  5. Dog groomers will tell you cocker spaniels are evil incarnate. I worked several spaniel bite cases. One was horrible, nearly bit the nose off of a 2 year old.

  6. The dogpac met last night over this issue of dog genocide by breed and decided that there should be a human counterpart. It should start at the border. No more Chechnians or bent nose people from that region such as Marathon Bomber Boys. No more Saudi Arabians because of 9/11. All Muslims to be put on no fly zone status. And while we are at it keep New Yorkie immigrants north of Palm Beach in FL. This particular perp in t photo here in this topic is last name Johson so include that name too.

  7. Elsie, apparently your husband hasn’t dealt much with terriers. For nearly 100 years, Pibbles were America’s favorite dog and were called Nanny dogs for their love of their families children. It wasn’t until the last 20 or so years that they got this bad rap. Mostly from dog fighters and hoodlums training them and breeding indiscriminately. All dogs can be dangerous if not properly trained. Even dangerous dogs can be rehabilitated. Look at the Vicktory Dogs at Best Friends or read the stories at

  8. Ask my husband who’s been a veterinarian for more than 25 years what he thinks about pit bulls and rottweilers: don’t ever trust an owner who tells you he/she is ‘nice; wouldn’t hurt a soul”. Yes, it gets worse of course when an owner trains that kind of dog. The only dogs who routinely attack other dogs in dog parks are of those two breeds. As long as there are men out there who feel like they need to back up their small ego with one of these dogs there will be attacks on other dogs and people. Is it legal to kill one if you get attacked by one of them? That may be one reason for me to finally get a concealed weapons permit since I’ve come close to such an attack.

  9. A breed ban is completely ineffective. If you ban pit bulls there will be more rottweilers. If you ban rottweilers there will be more presa canarios or cane corsos or mastiffs or dogo argentinos or fila brasieros or some mix of the dozens of large molosser breeds. All are capable of causing severe injury or death. An irresponsible, unaware, ignorant or antisocial owner will always be a danger regardless of the breed of dog.

Comments are closed.