Pierre Cleveland, 33, left the dogs alone in his backyard even though he knew they were vicious. AP
A Detroit man’s three pitbulls escaped from his yard and mauled a nine-year-old girl to death this week — and the owner was charged with the girl’s murder on Thursday, authorities said.
Wayne County Prosecutors claim Pierre Cleveland, 33, left the pooches alone in his backyard on Monday, behind a loose, damaged fence, even though he knew they were vicious.
“The allegations are that the defendant was harboring dogs he knew to be dangerous, he knew to be aggressive,” said assistant prosecuting attorney Barbara Lanning, according to The Detroit Free Press.
The side door to Cleveland’s garage was also open, leading to an alley where the child, Emma Hernandez, was attacked, authorities said.
The dogs apparently broke out and pounced on the girl as she rode her bike with her 13-year-old brother in their Southwest Detroit neighborhood, according to Click On Detroit.
A neighbor tried to stop the rampage by throwing a bricks at the pitbulls, to no avail.
The child was left with bites all over her body and pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Prosecutors said Cleveland had to know the dogs were dangerous, because they allegedly killed a puppy inside his home last week.
Cleveland was arrested Monday and later charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and having a dangerous animal causing death.
His attorney, Emmett Greenwood, pleaded not guilty on his behalf at his arraignment on Thursday.
Cleveland appeared in court via video and hung his head throughout the process, at one point covering his eyes with his hand.
His attorney said he had no prior offenses, and that he acted negligently, but not maliciously.
Cleveland was ordered held on $2 million bond. His next court date is Aug. 30.
His dogs are in the possession of Detroit Animal Care and Control and set to be euthanized.