» Sabine Davidson Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
Sabine Davidson Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
This is the article that appeared on the web site
for "Court TV." Court TV covered the Davidson murder trial at
which I testified. They featured 30 minutes of my testimony (I was on
the witness stand for about 2 - 2 1/2 hours). Davidson was found guilty
of murder after only 2 hours of deliberation. Her husband will go on trial
for murder in March. I hope this trial can serve as a strong message to
the irresponsible pet owners who make no effort to take proper care of
their animals. Accidents can happen, but this is a case (like so many
others) where complete disregard for responsibility resulted in terrible
consequences for one family.
If you would like to read my article on the mistakes
made by the owners of these rots, read my article titled Rots
Kill 11 Year Old Boy - Lessons to be Learned from Many Mistakes.
Kansas v. Sabine Davidson
"The Rottweiler Murder Trial"
In trial that Court TV taped out of Junction City, Kansas
in January, a 27-year old woman faces a murder charge in connection with
the killing of an 11-year old boy by her Rottweiler dogs.
Sabine Davidson was tried for unintentional second-degree
murder and faced between 11 and 51 years in prison. Her husband Jeffrey
will be tried on similar charges at a later date. Mrs. Davidson has no
prior convictions of any kind. Under Kansas law, the defendant would
have to serve 80 percent of the sentence before being paroled.
The victim, Christopher Wilson: Mauled to death by three rottweilers
On the morning of April 24, 1997, Christopher Wilson
and his then 8-year old brother, Tramell, were waiting for the school
bus at the bus stop across the street from Sabine Davidson's home in Milford,
Kansas. While waiting, the two boys were accosted by three of Davidson's
four Rottweiler dogs. The two temporarily escaped the dogs by climbing
up a tree. Christopher was attacked and killed by the three dogs when
he decided to climb down from the tree to see where the dogs had run off
When Geary County sheriff's deputies arrived on the
scene, they shot and killed the dogs and subsequently arrested their owners,
Sabine and Jeffrey Davidson. The Davidsons were initially charged with
allowing dangerous animals to run loose but the charges were increased
to manslaughter and then to unintentional second-degree murder, a law
that went into effect in Kansas in 1993. Prosecutors say that the charges
were increased because of evidence that the Davidson's had taught their
dogs aspects of "Schutzhund," a German dog training sport which
includes teaching dogs how to bite. The state also found evidence that
the Davidsons had been previously warned about their dogs roaming free
and had done little to address those warnings.
A Typical Spring Morning
It was a fine spring morning in the Milford subdivision
known as Country Meadows estates. Sometime around 7:15 a.m., Christopher
and Tramell Wilson headed down Mockingbird Road toward the Milford School
bus stop in front of Tony Van Buren's house. Van Buren's house is located
on Red Bird Road near the corner of Mockingbird Road. The front of the
house looks east across Red Bird to the side of the Davidson home and
its chain-link fenced backyard. The front of the Davidson house looks
north across Mockingbird.
Tramell said that he observed the Davidsons' dogs through
the chain-link fence digging under the fence as they had the two previous
days. Tramell was thinking "Come on, bus" because he saw that
the dogs were digging quickly and aggressively. He saw the Rottweilers
running toward him and his brother, Christopher. The boys ran for a tree
alongside Van Buren's garage and managed to climb high enough to avoid
the dogs. Once the dogs were out of sight, Christopher climbed down the
tree and went to find out where the dogs went. The dogs attacked Christopher
from behind and inflicted fatal bites around the boy's neck and throat.
The school bus arrived in the aftermath and a busload
of children watched in horror as the dogs played a "tug-of-war"
with Christopher's body. The arriving authorities shot and killed Chance,
a 15-month old male Rottweiler, and Panda, a 6-month old female. Jenny,
a 13-month old female Rottweiler, escaped into the woods but was shot and
killed several hours later as she was apparently heading back into the
Sabine Davidson was apparently asleep on the living
room couch when the incident took place. Davidson told the authorities
that she was sick and had taken cold medicine the night before with a
sleep aid in it. She awoke at around 3:30 a.m. to hear Chance, Panda and
Jenny barking. She let them in the house and stayed up with them until
about 6 a.m. when she let them out to the backyard again. She was supposed
to get her daughter, Victoria, up for school, but fell back to sleep.
She said she never heard the dogs barking outside, the school bus horn
or the gunshots fired by the deputies.
An Attack Waiting to Happen?
Sabine insists that the dogs had not been trained for
attacking people. But there were earlier incidents reported about the
three Rottweilers. On June 14, 1996, neighbor Tony Van Buren, a sergeant
with the Kansas Highway Patrol, said he was in front of his house with
a friend when he saw two boys riding bikes in the intersection of Red
Bird and Mockingbird Roads. He saw three dogs approaching the boys in
the street in a menacing manner. Van Buren asked his friend to try to
distract the dogs while he ran in the house to grab his service revolver
and a baseball bat. When he returned outside, Van Buren yelled at the
dogs and they began running back to the Davidson home. Sheriff's Deputy
Sonia Gregoire arrived and assisted Van Buren in getting the dogs back
to their home. Gregoire left a business card with a case number on the
door when she discovered the Davidsons were not home.
Other neighbors also reported incidents in which they
got their guns when the Davidson's Rottweilers trespassed on their property,
but eventually ran away.
Sabine and her husband, Jeffrey, are each charged with
one count of unintentional second-degree murder and endangering a child
under the age of 18 (Tramell Wilson), a misdemeanor. Jeffrey's trial is
set for March 1998.
To convict Sabine of unintentional second-degree murder,
the state has to prove key elements to the jury showing that Sabine acted
recklessly and with extreme indifference to the value of human life.
Sabine argues that although many witnesses claim that
the Davidsons' dogs were terrifying and ran roughshod throughout the neighborhood,
no one went to the Davidsons personally and complained. The sole complaint
came from a neighbor annoyed by the dogs defecating on her lawn. The defense
also argues that the Davidsons took the prudent step of putting a padlock
through a lock hole provided just above the clasp. In most circumstances,
that type of lock secures the gate to the anchor pole. The Davidsons took
steps reasonable people would take, but they did not count on the dogs'
ability to dig under the fence.
Sabine Davidson was convicted of unintentional second-degree
murder for the death of Christopher Wilson. She was also convicted of
endangering the welfare of a child under 18 and is scheduled to be sentenced
March 2, 1998.
Jury awards more than $850,000 for dog attack
Oct. 14, 2007 08:09 AM
HONOLULU - A jury has awarded $856,000 to a mother
and her 2 1/2-year-old son who was bitten by a Rottweiler on the beach.
The Hawaii Circuit Court jury took three hours Friday to decide that
dog owner Mariko Bereday was negligent for failing to keep her dog on
a leash at Kahala Beach on Mother's Day in 2005. It's believed to be
the highest dog bite award in Hawaii history.
The boy, Keeton Manguso, weighed 24 pounds when he was bitten multiple
times by the dog. He received stitches for bites on his hip and back,
and he was also bitten on his arms, said his attorney Jim Bickerton.
The dog wouldn't get off until a former University
of Hawaii football player punched him in the head, Bickerton said.
The boy's mother, Veronica Tomooka, said the lawsuit was never about
"It was strictly to have her see what we went through and have a jury
judge her," Tomooka said.
Bereday denied that her dog bit the boy and said afterward that photos
of his injuries were faked. She said she plans to appeal.
Bereday had previously been cited once and warned five times to keep
her dogs on a leash, according to a 2003 letter from the Hawaiian Humane
Society that was used as evidence in the trial.
"It really highlights that the rules that say when a dog is out in public
it should be leashed' are there for a very good reason," Bickerton said. "Too
many people want to enjoy the pleasure of running with their dogs at
the beach and don't stop to think about the risk that poses, particularly
Five days after the attack, Bereday was back on the beach with the same
dog when it attacked a 4-year-old girl. She was sentenced to five days
in jail and a $2,000 fine. The dog was ordered to be destroyed, but the
case is being appealed.
Bereday insists the dog is docile and not aggressive, said her attorney,
"She didn't know the dog could do this," he said.
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