Exams continue in dog mauling death

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Preliminary examinations continued Friday for the July 2010 dog-mauling death of a 5-year-old boy, and will resume tomorrow before a decision is reached as to whether a manslaughter trial will be convened.

“Is this animal dangerous?” 25th District Court Judge David Zelenak asked rhetorically. “That’s what this examination is all about.”

The answer to that question will determine if Debralynn C. Holland, 29 and Earl Dwayne Adkins, 35, will face charges, including manslaughter, for the death of Holland’s son, Kyle, who was mauled by an animal owned by Adkins. Arguments Friday included a description of the 90-pound canine as a “wolf hybrid,” a definition that Adkins’ attorney, Daniel Blank, said was irrelevant and — should the case go to trial — would prejudice jurors.

The definition was allowed for the purposes of the preliminary examinations, which began in September following a July arraignment of Holland and Adkins.

Lincoln Park Det. Scott Lavis testified Friday that “wolf hybrid” was the description given by Adkins when interviewed following Kyle’s death. During testimony heard last month from Holland’s other son, a 9-year-old, the boy said that Adkins called the animal a “baby wolf.”

Holland and her two sons moved in with Adkins to the 1500 block of Empire Street shortly before the incident. Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Raj Prasad stated that Kyle, a disabled boy, was left unattended with the animal, named “Chase.” Friday’s testimony by Det. Lavis recalled his conversation with Adkins, who said that Holland was taking a variety of pills that day.

“She just went to bed,” Lavis recalled Adkins’ explanation of why the child was alone with the animal. “He never thought Chase would do something like this.”

According to reports from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office, Kyle suffered more than 80 puncture wounds and 250 abrasions during the attack. On Friday, Lavis described forensic analysis of the dog’s fecal matter, which included bits of clothing and human bones.

Holland faces a possible 15-year prison sentence if tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter; Adkins may be charged with owning a dangerous animal causing death, also a 15-year felony.

The prosecutor, Blank said, “has to prove that the animal is dangerous, not its breed.”

Additional potential charges and testimony involved 19 marijuana plants located in and near Adkins’ home by police, who were called shortly after 9 a.m. when Holland discovered Kyle’s body. Friday’s testimony recalled that the two argued over contacting the police.

“He panicked and thought about the marijuana,” Det. Lavis said. “She came downstairs and assisted” in moving the plants, which were discovered in Adkins’ vehicle, basement and in an alley behind the house. Adkins faces several marijuana-related charges, and Holland may be charged as an accessory after the fact.

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