Owner of pit bulls in fatal attack charged with second-degree murder

August 22, 2019, 12:51 PM

The man who allegedly owned the free-running pit bulls that killed 9-year-old Emma Hernandez Monday is charged in connection with her death. 

Emma Hernandez (Photo: Facebook)

Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office issued a statement outlining charges against Pierre Cleveland, 33, who lived near where Emma was attacked, in an alley in the 6030 block of Central Avenue. 

Cleveland was to be arraigned this afternoon in 36th District Court on charges of second-degree murder, dangerous animal causing death and involuntary manslaughter. 

Emma and her brother, 13, were riding bicycles in the alley when the dogs set upon her. A neighbor unsuccessfully tried to drive the animals back with bricks, but she suffered multiple bites that were ultimately fatal. Cleveland lived nearby, and left the dogs unsecured in the yard while he went to a nearby store, Worthy's office said.

The fence was damaged and not secure, and a garage side door was open that led to the Southwest Detroit alley where the children were riding near their homes. 

"It is horrible to imagine what Emma went through as she was being mauled to death by vicious dogs allegedly owned by the defendant," the prosecutor says in a statement. “It is high time that the city of Detroit shines a light on the owners of these dangerous animals that sometimes roam and wreak serious havoc - none worse than what happened here.”

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