Couple pleads guilty in mauling death

Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — After preliminary examinations that lasted more than four months, Debralynn Holland and Earl Dwayne Adkins pleaded guilty to charges related to the dog-mauling death of Holland’s 5-year-old son, Kyle in July 2010.

Kyle Holland was killed on July 12, 2010, not long after he and his mother moved in with Adkins to a house in the 1500 block of Empire Street. During lengthy preliminary hearings, witnesses including police investigators, neighbors, friends and forensic experts testified that Kyle suffered more than 80 puncture wounds and 250 abrasions during an attack by a 90-pound German shepherd/husky mix.

Holland and Adkins entered their pleas April 20 before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry Holland pleaded guilty to all three charges she faced: Involuntary manslaughter, a felony, second degree child abuse and accessory after the fact to a felony for involvement with Adkins’ marijuana. Prosecutors maintained that Adkins was growing marijuana in the basement, and that after discovering that Kyle had been killed the two attempted to destroy more than a dozen marijuana plants before calling the police. Adkins pleaded guilty to owning a dangerous animal causing death, a charge similar to manslaughter.

Two dogs belonging to Adkins —Chase, the husky mix determined to have killed the boy, and a black labrador — were being kept at the Allen Park Animal Shelter. A determination on the animals’ fate had yet to be reached and will likely await conclusion of the sentencing.

Speculation was aired during the preliminary examinations in Lincoln Park’s 25th District Court that the responsible dog was an illegal wolf-hybrid. Judge David Zelenak dismissed arguments for or against that statement:

“Is this animal dangerous,” Zelenak stated rhetorically. “That’s what this examination is all about.”

Witnesses during the preliminary examinations testified that Chase had a history of aggressive behavior; that Adkins described the dog as a “wolf” to Holland’s other son; and that the couple left Kyle, partly disabled, unguarded when the animal was typically kept in a cage.

Holland faces up to 15 years in prison; the plea agreement for Adkins resulted in a sentence of 24 months to 15 years. Sentencing is scheduled for July 13.

(James Mitchell can be reached at