Fatal dog mauling owner pleads “Not Guilty”

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Appearing before Judge William Ledbetter Jr. in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court, the fatal dog mauling defendant Deanna Large plead not guilty Wednesday to charges of involuntary manslaughter and three misdemeanor counts of letting a dangerous dog run at large.

Large is the alleged owner of three pit bulls that attacked and killed an 82-year-old neighbor as she walked her dog in the front yard of her home. Police responding to the incident on March 8, shot two of the dogs at the scene and later euthanized the third.

No one in Virginia has ever been convicted of an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with their ownership of dogs. The only similar case, in the late 1960’s in Amherst County, was dismissed.

The commonwealth’s prosecuting attorney, William F. Neely said, “That’s a prosecutor’s job whenever you see the law being flagrantly broken is to try and push the envelope,” explaining the seriousness of charges against Large who faces 13 years in prison. Further adding that, “The real issues are legal and not factual, I think. If the commonwealth prevails in getting this case to stand up on the law, it may possibly even turn into a guilty plea.”

Large, who is free on a US$10,000 bond, asked for a jury trial which was set for August 16.

During her March 24 arraignment, to Judge Ledbetter she answered “Yes sir," on whether she would hire her own defense lawyer. The judge appointed public defender Eugene Frost to represent Large when she did not appear with a lawyer.

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