Five convicted of murder-by-dog, three charged in new cases
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2003:
TEMECULA, California–Baby sitter Jackie Batey, 30, was on
July 9 charged with felony child endangerment and involuntary
manslaughter for the June 20 fatal mauling of Sumner Clugston, age
2, in the front yard of her home in Riverside County, California.
Batey allegedly left Clugston and three other children alone with her
pit bull terrier.
The charges against Batey followed five convictions on felony
charges in three other murder-by-dog cases during the preceding 12
The Batey charges came 20 days after Kathleen Josephine
Hansen, 60, and her son Roger Allen Hansen, 35, were jailed and
charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a
child, reckless endangerment, and dog law violations after a
similar incident in Clarion County, Pennsylvania. In that case,
Roger Hansen allowed his three Rottweilers to escape while Kathleen
Hansen was playing with her two-year-old granddaughter Lillie
Krajewski of Buffalo.
The charges, and the convictions, continued a growing
national trend toward holding dog guardians strictly liable for fatal
attacks and severe injuries done by their animals, especially in
cases involving pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other dogs of
Pleading guilty to manslaughter for the October 2001
dog-mauling death of Carol Joan Shatswell, 50, of Scottsville,
Arkansas, Carl L. Smith of Cagelsville, Arkansas was on July 7,
2003 sentenced to serve three years in prison by Pope County Circuit
Court Judge Dennis Suttersfield, with another three years suspended,
and was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines and restitution.
Also pleading guilty to manslaughter, Carl Smith’s wife Kim Smith
was sentenced to serve five years on probation and pay $1,000 in
fines and court costs. Shatswell was killed by three pit bull
terriers formerly kept by the Smiths. The dogs attacked her while
running at large.
Wayne Hardy, 25, of Mauston, Wisconsin, on June 26
escaped trial for homicide caused by a vicious animal by pleading
guilty to recklessly causing harm to a child and three counts of
misdemeanor child neglect. Because Hardy had a prior felony
conviction for burglary, he could have been sentenced to 60 years in
prison if convicted on the original charges. Instead Judge Robert
Radcliffe sentenced Hardy to serve two years in prison, followed by
three years of supervised release and six years on probation. Hardy
was also ordered to pay approximately $8,500 in funeral and
counseling costs to the family of Alicia Clark, 11.
Hardy and his wife Shanda McCracken, 33, left Clark and
McCracken’s daughter Melissa, then also 11, alone in their home
with Hardy’s two adult Rottweilers and their four pups on Valentine’s
Day 2002. Clark was so savagely mauled despite the efforts of
Melissa McCracken to save her that the pathologist who examined
Clark’s body found only the soles of her feet and her left hand were
Shanda McCracken was also initially charged with homicide,
but in May pleaded guilty to recklessly causing harm to a child plus
two counts of misdemeanor child neglect. Juneau County Reserve Judge
Virginia Wolfe sentenced her to serve 18 months in jail, with five
years suspended and five years on probation.
Charles Dean Schneider, 54, a former police officer in Red
Bluff, California, was convicted on June 30 by a Tehama County
Superior Court jury of felonious involuntary manslaughter and
feloniously “owning a mischievous animal causing death.” Allegedly
allowed to escape from his yard and run at large on multiple
occasions, Schneider’s two Rottweiler/pug mixed breed dogs on
February 7, 2002 mauled Genoe Alonzo Novach, age 6, beyond
recognition. Sentencing was set for July 28.
The most prison time assigned in a recent dog attack case was
the four-year plea bargain sentence handed to Joseph R. Lampman Jr.,
27, of Windsor, Vermont, in March 2003. Lampman allegedly
accosted Keith Cushman, 18, in White River Junction on April 2,
2002, and after yelling at Cushman from his car, stopped and
ordered his pit bull to “sic” him. Cushman suffered multiple bites
Two women convicted in earlier cases are serving much longer
sentences, however, and the prosecutors who sent them to prison
recently affirmed their belief that they should do more time still.
On May 30, 2003, the Kansas Supreme Court for the second
time upheld the 1998 second-degree murder conviction of Sabine M.
Davidson, formerly of Milford, Kansas, whose three Rottweilers
fatally mauled Christopher Wilson, 11, at a school bus stop.
Wilson’s younger brother survived by climbing a tree. Davidson
allegedly habitually allowed the Rottweilers to run at large. Her
husband was convicted of related lesser charges.
On April 11, 2003, the California state Attorney General’s
Office petitioned to reinstate the March 2002 second degree murder
conviction by jury of former San Francisco attorney Marjorie Knoller,
47, for the January 2001 fatal mauling of neighbor Diane Whipple,
33, who was torn apart by two Presa Canarios whom Knoller failed to
control. Both dogs had previously bitten people, and each
Knoller was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter,
along with her husband and law partner Robert Noel, 61. San
Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren set aside Knoller’s
murder conviction, which could have carried a sentence of 15 years
to life in prison, and instead sentenced both Knoller and Noel on
the manslaughter convictions. Noel could be free on parole as early
as September 12, 2003. Knoller, if her murder conviction is not
reinstated, will be eligible for parole on March 14, 2004.
A three-way sexual relationship among Knoller, Noel, and
reputed Aryan Brotherhood prison gang leader Paul Schneider, who
originally owned the dogs, was hinted at during the trial. The
details are reportedly exposed, as obtained from court documents,
in Red Zone: The Behind-The-Scenes Story of the San Francisco Dog
Mauling, a 320-page history of the case by best-selling crime writer
Aphrodite Jones, 44, published in June 2003 by William Morrow.
The Indiana and Wyoming state Supreme Courts reached opposite
verdicts recently as to whether dog guardians can be sued for
negligent care of a dangerous animal in bite cases involving breeds
other than those of “dangerous propensity”–and the Utah Supreme
Court reached still another conclusion concerning cats.
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled during the last week in May
that a mixed breed sheepdog belonging to George Horvath of South Bend
who allegedly bit a child without provocation in July 1997 could not
have been recognized as dangerous because the dog had done nothing of
the sort before, was well trained and obedient, and was not of a
The Wyoming Supreme Court, however, on June 7 reversed its
own 1989 precedent in a similar case and ruled that the family of
Carmen Borns, seven when attacked, may sue Clay and Mitzy Voss of
Lazy TX Outfitters in the Wind River Mountains for injuries Borns
suffered in 1999 when the Vosses’ red heeler bit her in the face.
The Vosses contend that the attack was provoked. The Borns argue
that the Vosses were nonetheless negligent about controlling the dog.
The merits of the case have yet to be decided.
The Utah Supreme Court on May 6 ruled that because cats do
not often pursue and attack people, cat guardians cannot be held to
the same strict liability standards as dog guardians–which requires
cat scratch or bite victims to establish that the cat’s people knew
the perpetrator had nasty proclivities before they can claim
negligence. The 11-year-old tabby cat whose bite was at issue did
not have a vicious history, but the bite became infected, with
serious consequences to the plaintiff. The bite occurred when the
plaintiff mistook the cat who bit her for one of her own four cats
and tried to pet him.