Exam set for couple charged in mauling death

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK – Justice, as defined by the family of 5-year-old Kyle Joseph Holland, may or may not be denied, but it will be delayed.

Defense attorneys requested on Thursday an adjournment for a scheduled preliminary examination of Debralynn C. Holland, 29, and Earl Dwayne Adkins, 35. The two were arraigned last month in Lincoln Park’s 25th District Court on charges connected to the July 2010 death of Kyle, who was mauled by a wolf-hybrid dog. An examination of the evidence is scheduled for Sept. 16 and 19.

“Two days have been set aside by the court for the preliminary examination in this matter because the hearing will be lengthy,” Wayne County Prosecutor spokeswoman Maria Miller said.

Holland faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, a 15-year felony, and second-degree child abuse, a four-year felony, for leaving a young boy vulnerable to the animal.

Adkins was charged with owning a dangerous animal causing death, a 15-year felony treated similar to manslaughter, with gross negligence causing criminal liability. Prosecutors maintain that Adkins and Holland knew the animal was dangerous and did not ensure Kyle’s safety. Holland and Kyle moved in with Adkins to a house in the 1500 block of Empire Street 10 days prior to the incident.

Relatives of Kyle from Tennessee launched a page on a web site called “Deserved Justice,” a tribute to Kyle’s vibrant spirit in spite of a short life filled with tragedy. Kyle wore leg braces, and lost his father to an auto accident. Kyle often visited Tennessee relatives including his aunt, Lisa Young, who traveled to Michigan last week for the adjourned examination.

Young said that the family was concerned that Holland and Adkins were able to secure bond given the severity of the charges. Adkins was issued a $50,000 or ten percent bond, and Holland was released on a $50,000 personal bond.

“We are very disappointed that they are out and free, and that it was set so low,” Young said. “A child’s life is lost because of their negligence.”

In addition to the charges related to Kyle’s death, Adkins faces a four-year felony for possession with intent to deliver or manufacture marijuana. Police responding to the call concerning Kyle discovered 15 alleged marijuana plants in the basement. Holland was charged as an accessory after the fact, a five-year felony, for allegedly trying to get of the plants and providing false information to the police.

In July 2010 the Wayne County Medical Examiners Office ruled Kyle’s death a homicide. The 90-pound dog that attacked the boy was one of two in the home, along with a Labrador retriever.

Wolf-hybrid dogs are illegal to own in Michigan, one of many elements of the case that still haunt Kyle’s family.

“My understanding is that the laws are very strict about wolf hybrids,” Young said, adding that Kyle fell through many cracks before his life was taken. “We think this child was left home alone quite often, and people – neighbors, friends and relatives – knew about that and did nothing.”

Two months before Kyle’s death, Adkins was ticketed for having a dog that large without a license. Reportedly, the dog was in custody briefly before being given back to Adkins.

“The dog should never have been given back,” Young said. “Kyle would still be here today.”