Prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Alex Donald Jackson to 24 years to life in state prison.
Jurors deliberated less than a day before convicting Jackson, 31, on Aug. 29 of one count of second-degree murder for the May 9, 2013, dog attack on Pamela Devitt, a 63-year-old married grandmother from Palmdale.
The panel also convicted him of three drug-related charges — cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of a controlled substance, but acquitted him of a single charge of assault with a deadly weapon involving an alleged run-in with a horseback rider in January 2013.
Jackson testified in his own defense, telling jurors that he felt ‘terrible” about what had happened.
“This isn’t anything that I orchestrated or planned, that I wanted to have happen,” he said.
In a sentencing memorandum, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams wrote that Jackson kept the dogs and a shotgun to guard a drug operation at his house and that “his actions in this case show that he has a nearly psychopathic disregard for the lives and well-being of others.”
“The incident itself is appalling and shows the defendant’s complete lack of empathy for the other people living in his community. Despite numerous warnings that his pit bulls were dangerous and were attacking people, the defendant did nothing to keep them contained,” the prosecutor wrote, noting that Jackson hid the dogs in his garage after the attack and lied to law enforcement officers who were trying to find the animals.
Authorities said Devitt sustained about 200 puncture wounds in the dog attack, which began when she was walking about one-eighth of a mile from Jackson’s home.
A motorist’s pickup truck was also chased by the dogs after the motorist — who called 911 — honked her horn in an effort to stop the dogs from attacking Devitt, according to the prosecutor.
Devitt and her husband, Ben, had started a walking program in an effort to improve their health after the birth of their first grandchild, but he wasn’t able to go with her that day, Williams said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies searched Jackson’s home and confiscated eight dogs: six pit bulls and two mixed breeds, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Marijuana also was found growing on the property.
DNA testing confirmed that dried blood from the victim was found on four of Jackson’s dogs, who were locked in a garage, according to Williams.
Williams called the case “very unusual,” noting that there was evidence the dogs attacked nine other people in an 18-month period.
“He knew that these animals were dangerous to human life,” the prosecutor said of the defendant.
The four dogs involved in the attack on Devitt were euthanized, while the other four dogs found on the property were adopted by other families, according to the prosecutor.
Jackson — initially arrested the day after the fatal mauling and then released on bail about a month later — was re-arrested on May 30, 2013, and has remained jailed since then.
The case was the second tried in Los Angeles County in which a dog owner was convicted of second-degree murder for a mauling death.
The case against former lawyer Marjorie Knoller was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles following extensive publicity in the Bay Area, and she was convicted in March 2002 of second-degree murder for the January 2001 mauling of lacrosse coach Diane Whipple in an apartment hallway by two Presa Canario dogs owned by Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, who was also then an attorney. Noel was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and owning a mischievous dog that kills.
—City News Service
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