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Originally published October 22, 2009 at 10:27 AM | Page modified October 22, 2009 at 10:58 PM

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Teen sentenced to 17 months for pit bull attacks

A 16-year-old girl who assaulted two women in SeaTac earlier this year, beating and siccing her pit bull on them, was sentenced on Thursday to 14 to 17 months in a juvenile-detention center, where she will undergo anger-management treatment.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 16-year-old girl who assaulted two women, and was joined in the attacks by her pet pit bull, broke into tears on Thursday when she was confronted by one of the victims in King County Juvenile Court.

"You were horrible," a 63-year-old woman from Seattle told the Burien girl. "You were terrible and you know it."

The woman then added, "But I want you to get help. I want you to be the good girl I know you can be."

"All I ask for is forgiveness and mercy," said the girl, who admitted she had problems with anger and substance abuse. "I want to seek help 'cause I know I need it."

Judge Philip G. Hubbard Jr., citing the "cruelty" of the case, the girl's danger to the community and her lack of parental support, sentenced her to 14 to 17 months in juvenile confinement.

The sentence was longer than the state's standard range of 13 to 36 weeks.

The girl pleaded guilty last month to second-degree assault, third-degree assault and being a minor in possession of alcohol.

The Times is not naming the girl because she was prosecuted as a juvenile.

According to police and prosecutors, the girl — then 15 — and three younger boys had been trying to train her pit bull to attack on command by abusing him on June 21 in SeaTac.

The 63-year-old victim was driving on Des Moines Memorial Drive when she saw the children kicking the dog.

The woman stopped to find out what was wrong and to offer help, deputy prosecutor Jason Simmons said in court Thursday.

The woman was told to mind her own business and then was attacked by the girl, who reached through the passenger door, grabbed the victim's hair and clubbed her with a cellphone, according to charging documents. When the victim tried to flee, the girl chased her and continued the beating, Simmons said.

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The pit bull was then sicced on the woman, according to police, and she suffered multiple bites on her legs and arms.

A second woman was attacked after she witnessed the first attack and tried to keep the girl from walking away. That victim, 41, suffered a broken nose from being head-butted and punched in the face by the girl, court documents allege.

She also was mauled by the dog, which bit her on the face, head and both arms, leaving the flesh of her forearms flayed and the bones visible, according to the King County Sheriff's Office.

The dog was seized by King County Animal Care and Control and later released to the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, where he will spend the remainder of his life.

According to police, prosecutors and the girl's probation officer, the child grew up in a "violent, erratic and unsafe" environment in her mother's home.

The 63-year-old victim said in court Thursday that she also had grown up in a violent home and had been beaten throughout her childhood.

While she was being attacked by the girl, she said, all the beatings she suffered as a youth came back to her and her heart went out to the girl.

She said that such terrible anger in someone so young must have come from some terrible pain.

"I blame her upbringing," said the woman, who said she is planning to sue the child's mother over the assault.

Both the girl's father and mother were also in court.

The girl's mother said she had tried in vain to get help for her daughter before the attack.

Her father said he had been prevented from being part of his daughter's life since she was a baby. He apologized to the victims and said his daughter was a "good kid without great guidance."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

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