Thursday, April 21, 2016

The owners of the pit bull that killed Annie Williams are sentenced.

Leon Morton and Bobbie Green were sentenced in Cuyahoga County Court yesterday for the Shaker Heights pit bull mauling that killed Annie Williams in July of last year.  The importance of this case was underscored by the live streaming of the entire hearing.  Cuyahoga County seldom sees coverage of this type.

Before sentencing Green and Morton the judge stated to the defendants "I don't think you fully appreciated the danger, at the same time you knew it was a pit bull."  A profound and sobering statement. Mr. Morton was sentenced to 30 months in prison with credit for the 106 days he has already served since his arrest. After he is released from prison he will still have three years of post release supervision.  Mrs. Green was sentenced to 6 months in jail, suspended, with two years probation.  During the period of her probation she is not allowed to own or harbor a dog of any kind.

Watching the whole hearing live was a valuable experience.  We saw the demeanor of both defendants, Green sat with her head in her hands. Morton, head hanging,  in his prison orange jumpsuit and handcuffs was unable to wipe away his own tears.  These may have been proud and defiant pit bull owners at one time but they clearly realize the seriousness of their situation. Watch the video of the defendants addressing the court, click here.   For the statement of Mr. Morton, with subtitles for clarity please click here. He acknowledges the pain of his own children at witnessing the violent death of their beloved great grandmother.  Those images will never leave them.

A great deal of the sound on the courtroom video was poor but we can clearly hear Morton's attorney stating his client had made "poor choices."

During her statement to the judge the Prosecutor presented photos of the fence that was supposed to contain the pit bull.  It clearly had holes covered over with boards, one hole was blocked by a parked car.  The Prosecutor stated that the dog had been at large in the neighborhood prior to the death of Annie Green. Residents were captive in their own homes to avoid a dog they considered dangerous. Green and Morton knew the dog was dangerous  This dog was not new to the household, Morton and Green raised it after it had been brought to the home as a puppy by another son who promptly left the state and later became incarcerated.  Only Morton and Green were allowed in the yard with the dog, only Morton and Green fed and cared for the dog.

At the time of the attack upon Annie Williams, on the property to pick up her great granddaughters, neither Green or Morton was at home, the pit bull had escaped from the backyard.and a young female relative yelled a warning to Mrs. Williams from the porch that the pit bull was at large.  She had no time to return to the safety of her car.

Family members spoke with love of Annie Williams.  This good woman not only raised her own family but stepped up and raised the children of other family members as well. The statements of family members can be seen by clicking here

Sentence has been passed but nothing will bring Annie Williams back.  She is greatly missed by her loving family and by the community.

Annie Williams

Morton and Green made "bad choices" leading to the death of a fine woman, loved by her family and by the community as well.  They made mistakes.

Pit bulls are zero margin of error dogs.  A recent Barkpost article written by a high profile Ohio pit bull advocate discussed his own injuries, caused by pit bulls in his own home.  He admits he made a mistake.  Pit bull advocates must realize they are just one "mistake" away from the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs worn by Leon Morton.  As the judge told Morton and Green "you knew it was a pit bull."