192 Is this "justice?"


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

I do not know what this nation is turning into.

Read this tragic story. See if you find any reason to charge this mother with a crime.

...begin story...

Ellabell, Georgia.

Six members of a large family came back from a shopping trip. Five of them dozed off as the evening went on. The youngest, just 2, apparently woke up and slipped outside through a doggie door, something she had never done before. The oldest member of the family awoke because of commotion in the back yard among their 7 dogs. When she looked out the back window she saw all 7 dogs attacking and dragging the two year old around the yard. Rushing out, the family found that the child was dead. They called 911.

Bryan County Sheriff Clyde Smith said no criminal charges had been filed as of last Thursday, but said he expects charges will be brought after he's had a chance to discuss the case with the district attorney and the girl's family has been given time to hold her funeral.

"I can see child neglect at the very minimum," Smith says.

...end story...

What do you see?


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 9 months ago

Tom, I see child neglect as a contributing factor. You are right to pose the statement "I do not know what this nation is turning into." When we all start making excuses for irresponsible behavior and conduct, then we might as well declare a "free for all". As any ambulance chaser attorney will tell you, a life was taken and someone who was responsible for that child has to be held accountable. I see little difference in this from a parent who leaves an infant in an automobile in Phoenix in the summer while they get a haircut or their nails done. The first rule of parenting is never, ever leave an infant unattended. If you do they will end up at the bottom of a tub, pool, spa or under the kitchen sink where all the poisons are kept. Or even in the very place you put your loaded pistol and was sure they could not find it. I saw it a LOT in my career, and it was always people playing the sympathy card for the parents that made me the most angry. I developed a "professional crust" towards the tragic things that befall a lot of people, but when it comes to infants and their welfare, I know of no emergency responder that didn't end up with heartache over those incidents.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago


Here's a real life experience: I was on TDY on Guam. Lolly was in our little off-base apartment. At three in the morning David, 9 months old, woke up, climbed over the side of his crib, fell on his head, and was injured. He was taken to the base 12 miles away, but declared more or less okay....

On Hill AFB, Utah, David (now 2 plus) climbed out of his crib again, found some interesting finger paint in his diaper, and smeared it all over the carpet. Lolly called me at work. I came home and scrubbed said carpet clean, "talked" to David about it, and went back to work. A neighbor lady (this was on base) had noticed that I came home, rang the bell, and asked Lolly if there was anything wrong and if she could help in any way. David was playing in the living room and Lolly didn't want to embarrass him, so she stepped outside with the door partly open, and laughingly recounted out fun. Just as she was turning to go back in the door slammed shut and she heard the lock click. She tapped on the window and tried to get David to unlock it but he just shook his head. Our apartment was part of a six apartment row up-and downstairs places, so she raced around to the back door--but not quite in time. He locked that one just before she got there. Through the window, she saw him stomping upstairs toward the bedrooms, one of which contained 3 month old Francis. Horrified, she called the Air Police. They came and opened the door. All was well. David was asleep on our bed. She talked to the AP's and asked them to give him a stern warning. They did. He looked up and them and said, "Okay. You can go now."

Another: In the kid's bedroom on Hill AFB there was a built in, immovable, hand made toy chest. It was fixed to a wall. The wall was the one where the stairs came up, and so was tilted toward the toy chest. The toy chest lid was made of sturdy pine. David (2) lifted it with one hand, held it up while his other hand was on the rim of the chest. The lid dropped. Smashed finger....

On Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, in 1967 I left for work in an Air Defense Squadron (F-102's) at 6:45 in the morning. Lolly was up with the kids, getting David (6) ready for the on-base elementary school that he walked to across a quarter mile wide field between it and base housing. Francis (2) was still in bed as it was well before time for him to get up.

Lolly got David fed, dressed, and off at 7:45, sat down to rest for a few minutes and fell asleep because both she and I had been sick the night before with some kind of stomach flu that the kids, thank God, hadn't gotten (they did, but a week later). We had been up from two in the morning to about four-thirty. I went to work, of course; you don't just call in and say you're sick in the military. Anyway, i was feeling well enough, tired but able to work.

At 8:25 the doorbell rang. Lolly answered it. There was an Air Policeman with Francis, dressed in his underclothes. "This one yours?" he asked.



Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

Lolly could hardly believe her eyes. "Where'd you get him?"

The AP laughed. "Seems he followed the rest of the kids in the neighborhood to the school, sat down at a desk in a classroom, and smiled. Some of the kids told the teacher who he was, so we drove over and picked him up. Want him?"

Lolly thanked him, took Francis inside, and....

Another time, in Okinawa, our next door neighbor dropped over around ten on a Saturday morning and asked us if we knew what David (4) had done.

"Today?" I asked her. "He's been here in the house all morning playing with his toys."

We found out that David had slipped out his upstairs bedroom window in his bathrobe, walked along the two foot wide concrete ledge to the four by four concrete cover over the door, climbed down some open-work decorative concrete blacks, run around and played with the kids, climbed back up the blocks, walked across the ledge, climbed back in the window, and gone to bed, where we found him when we got the kids up....

When we returned from Okinawa to the states we stayed in the usual temporary motel-like quarters as usual. On the very first night there, Francis (2) woke up at 2 in the morning, remembered that Lolly had put some "gum" in her purse, got it out, and had eaten three pieces before Lolly happened to wake up and see him. The gum was the kind you chew when you're constipated. Chewing one piece would turn you inside out. Off to the hospital we went....

Okay. Question: How do you NOT leave a 2 year old child, or a 4 year old child, or an 18 year old child, "unattended" while you sleep, which each of us do every night?

Every single night, every parent on the planet.

I say there is no possible way to be certain that kids are safe. You can try all you want. You can be the most conscientious parent you can be. You can be caring and careful. But you can't perform miracles. You cannot be everywhere all the time, and no one can predict what some kid will do.

There are things that people do which are genuinely careless, things that are dangerous and should never be done, things for which they should often be held responsible. But the laws should work the same way for that type of negligence as they do for any other negligence. First, you look at the "proximate cause," the one thing without which nothing could have occurred. All too often, that is the simple fact that humans have to sleep. Then, you look to see whether or not the event was reasonably predictable. Then, you look at who bears the responsibility. Then....about a hundred other considerations.

If the law wants to create a perfect world for children, maybe we need to get cameras in every room of every house, and everywhere outside that children under 18 can be found, hire people to monitor them 24/7 every day, and write laws that severely punish anyone who dares to be human and err a bit.

It's not a perfect world. Trying to make it perfect will take away the few remaining rights we have.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 9 months ago


As a father myself, I had experiences very similar in nature to yours. Those things come with the territory. The difference between what you and I experienced with our children is different than the case you originally posted on. Both our kids are alive and well to this day. Perhaps you are inferring that we did something extraordinarily unique in rearing our kids since they "made it" to adulthood. I don't think so.

An infant. 7 pit bulls in the back yard. A "doggy door", supposedly so the dogs could freely come and go between the interior of the house and the yard. You don't see anything here that should be "addressed" relative to the safety and welfare of the infant?

Here are just a couple of links to current news stories including the one you posted about.




I believe those will suffice. I hope you are not suggesting that such tragedies are acceptable as mere "non-preventable accidents" and no adult with more than 2 brain cells should not have seen to potential, therefore taken recognizable steps to prevent said event.


Pat Randall 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes, kids do get away. My youngest started walking at 7 months. He went out the door across the street and over a bridge that went over an irrigation ditch. He was going to the neighbors house for his morning "coffee," without Mom. More latches were put on the doors.

Now my problem with what happened in your story was the seven dogs with 4 or 5 kids and a doggy door. They could have come into the house and got the baby. Pit bulls are not the only breed of dogs that will attack a little kid. Never trust any dog around a child. Yes I have always had a dog but I watched them very carefully with my three kids. None of the kids were ever hurt and the kids did not bother the dogs.


frederick franz 3 years, 9 months ago


The existence of a doggy door attracted my attention right away. I would foresee a problem with any number of animal species getting into the apartment. Such as, a raccoon, a skunk, a cat, or other quadrupeds. The infant would be at risk for an animal attack or bite. The possibility of an infant escaping would force me to block the doggy door permanently.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

No, Ron. I agree with you completely where negligence is concerned. But when a kid which used to lie down on the rug with her head on one of the dogs to watch TV is attacked because she took it into her head to do something her parents never imagined she would do, then although the level of the tragedy is great, the negligence does not necessarily rise to the same level.

You see where I'm coming from? The media, and often the courts, make the same error of logic. They conclude that because a great tragedy resulted, the error must also be great. And so then they take it upon themselves to make the punishment equally great. In truth, the "crime," if any in this case, if there even was any, is very slight. The result may have been horrendous, but the negligence was not.

As for whether or not I and Lolly were wonderful parents, my purpose in putting all that stuff up was to prove that we are NOT. Look. If David had been found on the sidewalk outside my house at 6 a.m. in the morning on Okinawa because he fell in climbing out that window, or off the little roof over our door, or if Francis had somehow been killed on his way to school that morning, the tragedy would have been as great as tragedies can be. But would that have meant that the punishment for what happened should be the same?

That's the conclusion I see the media, the courts, and legislatures coming to so very often. They want to make the punishment fit--not the crime--but the result. They write laws that skip all the intervening events and go directly to mandatory sentencing.

Justice requires that we only punish people for what they do, not for what results from what they do. If I bump into someone and cause him to stub his toe on a screw head on the bed lock, am I responsible for the fact that he dies of a MRSA infection?

If so, then Lolly should have been executed if I died of the MRSA infection that almost got me. She jerked and caused me to stub my toe on the locknut under her bed. The cut was very slight but it injected bacteria into the bone of my large toe. I almost died. I actually thought I was going to die. Many people have died the exact same way.

And Fred, what you say is true now that you have read what happened, but have you never seen a doggie door that went out to a closed yard in a city where there was little or not chance of anything coming in?

How many doggie doors are there in Payson right now?

How many people, therefore, are putting themselves, their loved ones, and especially their children at risk of being bitten by a rabid animal that slips in through that door?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

Isn't it reasonable to punish people only when you can say, "He knew, or should have known that the probability of the event was high enough to require any prudent person to take action concerning it?"

If my tree falls on your house, the only way I will be punished, and then only monetarily, is if that statement can be proven. How is it different if the result is more serious? If--say--the tree falls on you. It is NOT the result which proves the level of negligence, it is the severity of the negligence itself.

Either that or I am just plain nuts because I want laws that are fair and logical.

Folks, the only person who can guarantee that no one will be taken by some small percentage event is God. Therefore, if one of us is killed by an unforeseen event we know just Who to punish. Good luck!


Pat Randall 3 years, 9 months ago

I don't leave my doggie door open when I am gone and the dog is with me. I do not leave it open at night. My husband woke me up one night to get my camera and come and take a picture of my dog trying to get to a raccoon that was fishing in our fish pond. He could have come in the house. We also had huge lizards at the same house that were always around the doggie door so closed it up for good.

We had a doggie door in Mesa that the twelve year old next door could get thru, and he did several times stealing money each time. Think about that next time you leave with your dog and leave the doggie door open. It's a long story about him so won't go into it but the last trip we left it open he had moved my go kart to the front of the garage so he could come back after dark and steal it thru the garage door. Also hooked into my tv cable and used my water hose and water to fill thier swimming pool. Great parents that he had. I paid a $400, water bill for them to have fresh water in thier pool, No it wasn't a bad neighborhood just one bad neighbor.

I know Tom, I can't stay on a subject. My mind wanders.


Kim Chittick 3 years, 9 months ago

While I agree with all of you on certain points, and as a parent, I can't imagine anything happening to my kids; I also believe that there were elements in place in Tom's initial story that do speak to irresponsibility.

When you have a small child or children, 7 dogs, especially dogs that are or can be unpredictable, like pit bulls (and PLEASE, lets not turn this into an argument about pit bulls and how incredibly sweet they are) is not particularly smart. Add a doggy door that allows access to the home where the small child or children are and one is asking for trouble.

On a purely emotional level, my heart breaks for these parents. First, they lose their child in a particularly heinous manner, and then they are being blamed and possibly prosecuted. The grief would have to be off the charts immeasurable.

We all have stories of our kids or someone doing something that strikes terror into the hearts of parents everywhere. Why, I myself, as a toddler, thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I stuck a pair of tweezers into an electrical socket (they melt quite nicely, and leave a lovely film of soot up to the shoulder of a chubby little toddler arm. Fortunately, my guardian angel was watching over me and I had nary a burn!) Also, while being watched over by my grandmother, while my parents were out, I decided that if one St. Joseph's baby aspirin tasted good, then the whole bottle, (and this was before they limited the size of the bottle, and number of aspirin enclosed) would be like candy. Amazingly, I vomited them up and did not even have to have my stomach pumped. Were my parents irresponsible? No! Not by a long shot. Would they have deservd to be prosecuted should something have happened to me? Of course not!

As Tom pointed out, parents cannot watch , eyes on, their kids every second of every day. And they cannot ENTIRELY child proof their home. However, the possession of 7 known unpredictable dogs, and the installation of a doggy door with curious toddlers in the house was irresponsible. Finally, in my opinion, these parents have suffered enough. There are much more grievous examples of parents truly neglecting their children. I personally would have to have much more information before convicting these parents.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago


"I know Tom, I can't stay on a subject. My mind wanders."

That's called Freudian association. We all do it. One subject touches upon another, and that upon another, and that....

Like would be pretty dull if we walked around like clones and followed some kind of "federal conversation rules." I suppose that's coming next. We now have PC, AIMS, Common Core, and BO; anything is possible.

We had a doggie door in Mesa too. It was one of those that you install in a sliding door, an extra glass panel with the door at the bottom. I was sitting out back one day, got thinking, laid down by the doggie door with a stick in my hand, and unlocked the main door in about 30 seconds. We got rid of it. Not something for these times.

"No it wasn't a bad neighborhood just one bad neighbor."

They never even offered to pay for the water?

I meant to say something to Ron yesterday, but my post was getting too long and I saved it for today.

I can see how life's experiences affect how we think. Most of us go about our lives every day, well insulated from a lot of what goes on. But the first responders, the police, fire, and medics, as well as ER people, get a whole different slice of the world to look at every day. I'm willing to bet it isn't easy to take. I'm also willing to bet not everyone can handle it.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago


"Would they have deserved to be prosecuted should something have happened to me? Of course not!"

But they would be prosecuted today, and that's the problem.

Purely by coincidence I am reading a book from the Harvard Library on how the Supreme Court (and other courts) make their decisions. So far I haven't read a word I disagree with; not that I'm any expert, but everything they say makes perfect sense to a layman.

One thing they strive for is to have like cases decided alike. (That's why lawyers are always searching for precedents.) The idea is that justice requires that the same "crime" receive the same punishment. I don't think anyone would argue with that. It comes under the Fairness Doctrine, and I think we all agree with that.

But when a case like this comes along there are some people who throw the Fairness Doctrine out the window. Instead of considering whatever negligence occurred, if any, and how foreseeable any result may have been, they look at the end result and throw the punishment switch all the way to the KILL position.

What we should look at a case like this is a few questions, such as:

  • Did they break a law?

  • Did they do anything that isn't routinely done?

  • Do we normally punish people for doing what they did?

  • How predictable was what happened? (This often calls for testimony concerning what had happened before, such as had the child every shown any interest in the door, were the dogs vicious, and so on.)

  • What was the proximate cause? (When and why did the dogs attack? What did the child do to provoke an attack? And so on.)

  • A lot more.

Only after such questions are asked and answered should charges be considered, and only if the answers clearly show negligence should there be a trial, and the trial should only cover a provable level of negligence.

Simple real life example. Woman runs a child care center, has five children in it, has oil heating on the stove, and goes out to the store. The children die in a fire.

Tell me the probable proximate cause. And the level of negligence (EG: criminal or not).


Pat Randall 3 years, 9 months ago

Tom, While of this was going on with my neighbor we were spending most of our time in Tonto Basin so they knew we weren't there. When I got the big water bill I went next door and talked to the father. Ask him if he had a large water bill that month. He smiled and said no it was the same as always.

Something else to add to this, the kid had a special school bus with another adult besides the driver pick him up every morning and take him somewhere to school because he had been kicked out of the one a block and a 1/2 away.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

"He smiled and said...."

That smile says a lot. It seems to show that he knew about it. How do you know it wasn't the father instead of the son? You know what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree.

Had it been me, I'd have rigged up a camera.

Is there anything worse than a bad neighbor? You buy a house, work on it, try to make it the kind of place where you can home from work, close the door, and shut out all the bad things of the world.

And then...?


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