Hearings begin in mauling death

Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK – Preliminary examinations began Friday in 25th District Court for charges in the July 2010 dog-mauling death of a five-year-old boy.

Debralynn C. Holland, 29, and Earl Dwayne Adkins, 35, were arraigned in June on charges connected to the death of Holland’s son, Kyle, who was mauled by a dog belonging to Adkins.

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.

Among the witnesses testifying during Friday’s preliminary examination was Dr. Carl Schmidt, Chief Medical Examiner for Wayne County. Schmidt said the autopsy reported more than 80 puncture wounds and more than 250 abrasions. Parts of the boy’s body were missing, having been chewed off and eaten by the dog.

It was impossible to determine which wound proved fatal, but Schmidt said that the boy’s lungs were punctured and collapsed.

Schmidt explained that there are five categories of death from a forensic standpoint, including accidental, suicide, natural and unnatural. The fifth — homicide — was the determination on Kyle Holland.

Defense attorneys for Adkins and Holland questioned Schmidt, attempting to determine how many injuries were caused while the boy was alive or conscious.

“The child was (already) dead when his leg was eaten away,” Schmidt said. “I’d like to think he was.”

Defense attorneys presented speculation that the boy went into shock, and may not have screamed or called attention to the attack. Also questioned were neighbors, who recalled a time when Animal Control workers were called to the home a month before Kyle’s death. The 90-pound dog that attacked the boy was one of two in the home, along with a Labrador retriever.

Relatives of Kyle maintain that the animal which killed the boy was a wolf-hybrid dog, which are illegal to own in Michigan.

Holland and Kyle moved in with Adkins to a house in the 1500 block of Empire Street 10 days prior to the incident. Reportedly, the dog was briefly in custody before being given back to Adkins.

Prosecutors will attempt to prove that the dog was a known threat to the child’s safety, regardless of its breed.

“We do not have to present evidence that the dog is a wolf-dog hybrid,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Maria Miller. “We need to show that the dog was a dangerous animal to sustain our burden of proof in this case.”

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.

The preliminary sessions will continue a second day, yet unscheduled as of press time.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)