The couple whose dogs fatally mauled Dayton resident Klonda Richey to death in 2014 will spend months in jail and must perform hundreds of hours of community service.
Andrew Nason, 30, and Julie Custer, 27, were sentenced Wednesday in Dayton Municipal Court a couple weeks after both pleaded no contest and were each found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs.
Judge Carl Henderson sentenced Nason to 150 days in jail, 500 hours of community service in the next year, a $500 fine and court costs. Custer was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 480 hours of community service in the next three years, a $200 fine and court costs. Nason was credited with 26 days of jail-time credit while Custer was credited with one day.
Neither defendant said anything at the hearing until Henderson asked them if they were sorry and for what. “I’m sorry that Ms. Richey lost her life over this situation,” Custer said. Nason added that his dogs also died and said, “I’m sorry for all.”
Their sentences will be staggered because they have three minor children. Nason will serve his jail sentence first, followed by Custer. They will be on probation for up to five years and are not allowed to own dogs while on probation.
Richey, 57, was attacked in the driveway of her home at 31 E. Bruce Ave. in the early morning hours of Feb. 7, 2014 by two mixed mastiffs. The dogs were registered to Custer, who lived at 35 E. Bruce Ave. with Nason. The dogs were shot to death when they attacked police officers who responded to the call.
“This is a tragedy that should never have been allowed to happen,” said Dayton city prosecutor Stephanie Cook, who asked Henderson for the maximum 180 days sentence for each. “I’m asking you to do what nobody else was able to do — not the animal resource center, not the police, not the court next door for the protection order, not the county prosecutor’s office in terms of that indictment — and ask that you give justice to Klonda Richey today and to her family.”
Defense attorney Jay Adams disputed Cook’s claim that the grand jury’s decision not to indict the couple on felony charges was a lucky break.
“There’s no proof that they intended to do any of this, which is why this case was no-billed by the grand jury,” Adams said. “To indicate that, somehow, my clients trained these dogs to be killers or that they intentionally caused the death of this lady, I think is out of bounds and isn’t supported by the evidence in this case.”
Henderson allowed the replay of a recorded statement made by Richey’s sister, Linda Roach, who said Richey was stressed about dealing with her neighbors’ dogs.
“It was bringing her terror that she used to verbalize to me,” Roach said. “And eventually, it brought her death, because she didn’t get the help she needed.”
Cook said Richey, who worked for the county’s children services, tried to address her concerns with the animal resource center, the police, surveillance cameras, a fence and even offered to buy Nason’s house.
“She tried to get a protection order,” Cook said. “She prophesied that these dogs are going to kill her and here we are today.”
Adams said the Richey family would like clearer dog laws.
“The system itself, more than my clients, basically set this into motion,” Adams said. “Every time that there was an allegation made against my two clients, it was declined or it wasn’t followed up with because there was found to be no wrongdoing on their part.”
Henderson said the Dayton community lost a great asset in Richey and that her family asked that community service be part of the sentence to reflect Richey’s efforts for several organizations.
“(Ms.Roach) said the defendants should have to give back to the community as much as possible because her sister can no longer do so,” Henderson said. “And the court agrees.”
The executor of Richey’s estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Nason and Custer which is scheduled to go to trial in August. A second civil suit was filed against the Board of County Commissioners of Montgomery County, the county’s animal resource center and its director, Mark Kumpf.
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