Man convicted for failing to control pit bull that killed Dayton man

A Dayton man was convicted Friday for failing to control a pit bull that killed a 60-year-old Air Force veteran in 2017.

Anthony D. Austin was convicted of the first-degree misdemeanor charge after a jury trial in Dayton Municipal Court before Judge Dierdre Logan. The charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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Maurice Brown, 60, died of blood loss from numerous dog bites on April 25, 2017, after being attacked by a dog in an alley behind a house at 345 Middle St.

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During closing arguments, assistant city prosecutor Matthew Kortjohn cited ordinance language about a suspect “who owned, kept, possessed, harbored, maintained, or had the care, custody, or control of a dog” and that “suffered or permitted such dog to bite or otherwise cause physical harm to any other person, domestic animal, or feline.”

Kortjohn told jurors he agreed with defense attorney Carl Goraleski’s opinion that the statute was written with a broad brush.

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“This law was crafted in a way to keep people from escaping responsibility for their dogs,” Kortjohn said. “Can you imagine the outcome if this law only applied to owners and then we cross out all those other things?

“’Well, I never registered the dogs. Can’t prove their mine. Can’t prove I’m the owner so I’m not guilty. Even though I’m the one that’s chaining them out in the back. Even though I’m the one that’s feeding them. Even though I’m the one that keeps them at my house.’ We can’t hold people accountable with laws like that.”

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Kortjohn then listed the connections Austin had with 345 Middle Street. Those included witnesses seeing the four dogs chained up in the yard, a call from Austin to police to trespass a woman from the property and Austin’s failed efforts to get electricity for that address.

The prosecutor also mentioned Austin’s mother saying her son was the dogs’ owner Austin’s calls to police and the Animal Resource Center plus mail and family photos inside the residence.

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Kortjohn said the pit bull was clearly protecting its territory and tethered by a chain link mechanism not suited for the job before it broke.

“Mr. Brown was very much alive when this dog attack started,” Kortjohn said. “This is not a situation where Mr. Brown was collapsed from a heart attack and the dog just came up and had a snack. This dog killed Mr. Brown.”

RELATED: Dayton man pleads not guilty in charges after fatal dog mauling

Goraleski asked jurors to consider that police didn’t follow up to identify a man who was in the neighborhood the morning of the attack, and why police zeroed in on Austin despite other possible suspects and potential witnesses.

“There isn’t sufficient evidence to establish that Anthony Austin suffered or permitted this terrible tragedy from happening,” Goraleski said.

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