Mixed results at end of trial for first Cass Co. dog attack suspect
CASS COUNTY, Mich. -- Nearly a year after a 2-year-old Cass County girl was mauled by a pit bull, a six-person jury found the first suspect in the case not guilty; but he pleaded guilty for other charges.
“I’ll be very frank: I’ve done this for 35 years, and we’ll certainly respect the process and so forth, but this is the most befuddling decision that I’ve seen in 35 years from a jury,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.
His strong words came Thursday afternoon after a jury of four women and two men found Justin Smith not guilty of four counts.
Smith owned a pit bull named Kryptonite, who became the center of an awful dog attack that left a little girl with life-changing injuries.
Arial Harrison, then 2-years-old, and her brother Anthony were attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull while playing in a backyard in April 2017.
Days after the attack, Kryptonite was euthanized.
Arial received the worst injuries – losing both of her ears and most of her scalp.
Smith was charged with 11 90-day misdemeanors after the attack.
He pleaded guilty to seven of them at the start of his trial: five counts of his dog running at large; one count of failure to vaccinate his dog; and one count for failing to have a dog license.
But the six-person jury found Smith not guilty of the remaining four charges: three counts of dog bite; and one count of interfering with enforcement.
Smith is set to be sentenced on February 26. But that will not be the end of this story.
Vashaun Morgan will stand trial on February 27 for his involvement in the case.
He faces 17 charges, all similar to Smith’s.
ABC57 reached out to Arial’s father on Thursday after the trial, but have not heard back.