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Guilty Plea Is Entered in Mauling

Prosecution of pit bull owner in girl's death is a warning, says Riverside County prosecutor.

October 16, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The aggressive prosecution of a Good Hope woman whose pit bull mauled a 2-year-old to death should serve as a warning that people who own dangerous breeds of dogs will be held responsible for attacks, a Riverside County prosecutor said Wednesday.

Jackie Batey, 30, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Riverside County Superior Court on Tuesday. She was charged after her 32-pound pit bull killed Somer Clugston, whom she was baby-sitting when the June 20 attack occurred.

"From here on out, I want those people to know they are on notice that no prior viciousness by these types of dogs is not a relevant defense in these types of attacks," said Riverside County prosecutor John Monterosso. "It is going to be very hard for these people keeping dogs like pit bulls or Rottweilers to claim, 'I had no idea this would happen,' when we know these dogs are dangerous and can attack at any time."

Under terms of the plea agreement, a felony child endangerment charge was dropped. Batey could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and five years' probation. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled Dec. 2.

"She pleaded guilty to what she was guilty of: being extremely negligent to the point of recklessness," Monterosso said.

Somer was killed the morning of June 20, when she wandered out of Batey's home to the frontyard, where the pit bull attacked her. Batey had left the home to run errands, while others in the home, including Batey's husband, slept.

Somer was later found lying in the frontyard with the dog still on top of her.

Several of the girl's relatives are scheduled to address Superior Court Judge Albert Wojcik at the sentencing hearing.

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