Antwon Burks Oklahoma City dog owner acquitted of manslaughter of 82 year old neighbor, 82, mauled to death by two pitbulls while taking walk.
Antwon Demetris Burks, 36, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter after his two America Bully dogs attacked and killed Cecille Short, 82, and her small Papillion in April 2017.
Burks, who was not home at the time of the attack, was found not guilty after jurors deliberated for seven hours at Oklahoma County District Court.
‘Long deliberations are excruciating,’ defense attorney Ed Blau told The Oklahoman. ‘But that just means the jury was taking their time.
‘They were looking at the evidence, they were reading the law and they were doing everything they could to come to the right decision.’
Dangerous dogs who acted aggressive towards others
If convicted, Burks would have faced up to four years in prison.
During Burks’s trial, which began on November 1, prosecutors blamed him for the attack because he failed to keep his two dogs on the property.
‘This particular crime is a crime of negligence,’ Assistant District Attorney Kelly Collins said. ‘This is about as bad as it gets.’
Jurors were shown photos of a large hole in the fence of Burks’s rental home that he had not properly patched up.
The hole had been temporarily ‘closed up’ with an ice chest on one side and a brick-filled recycling bin on the other.
Burks’s neighbors testified that his two dogs, Delilah and Ice Cube, were ‘dangerous’ and would act aggressively towards people and other animals.
A flyer was put up in October 2016 detailing an attack between Burks’s dogs and another dog and encouraged neighbors to call the police if his animals were seen again.
‘I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe it,’
They also claimed that the dogs had been seen roaming freely around the neighborhood.
Another neighbor who testified, however, said that Burks was seen attempting to fix his fence multiple times and that the dogs were always very ‘sweet’ with her grandson.
‘He was always trying to keep them corralled,’ neighbor Michelle Huddleston said. ‘I never had any kind of fear of anything from them.’
The dog’s breeder Krystina Shumate of Iron Throne Kennels expressed incredulity following the attack.
‘I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t believe it,’ Shumate said.
‘This isn’t something that my dogs do. This isn’t something that my dogs do.’
Dog attack could not have been foreseen?
The defense also argued that Burks could not have foreseen the deadly attack on Short.
‘They were bought from a reputable breeder,’ Blau said, according to KFOR.
‘They were well-trained. We had witness after witness testify they didn’t think something like this could happen.’
Burks’s lawyers were elated with the verdict.
‘My client (has) waited four years for this day, and this was an extraordinarily tough case,’ Blau said after the case.
‘Not easy on anybody. I appreciate the jury. I appreciate them listening to the evidence, looking at the law and coming to the decision they did.’
Short, was a great-grandmother of four when she died, according to her obituary.
The 82 year old woman who lived around the corner from Burks, had been walking her small dog down Willow Creek Boulevard on the day of the attack.
Burks’s two dogs killed both Short and her dog at the scene and dragged the woman’s body into a yard.
The vicious attack had reportedly almost decapitated Short, leaving a pool of blood in the quiet neighborhood.
Witnesses and emergency crews had attempted to shoo the dogs away from Short, but were unsuccessful.
The male dog was fatally shot by a police officer and the female dog was struck by a patrol car before being taken to Oklahoma City Animal Welfare.
Oklahoma City police told the court how 10 shots were fired at the dogs, killing one.
A funeral service was held for Short at Chapel Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens on April 14, 2017.
‘We are heartbroken for the family of Cecille Short,’ District Attorney David Prater told The Oklahoman.
‘This has been a horrific and preventable tragedy to that family. We don’t understand the verdict of the jury but we respect it.’