Officials filed criminal charges on Monday against the father and grandparents of 15-month-old Jazilyn Mesa, who was fatally mauled on May 8, 2012, by the family’s Pit Bull in the backyard of her grandparents’ home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The baby girl died the following day at MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces. An autopsy showed she had bitten 12 to 15 times all over her body, with six puncture wounds to the back of her skull.
Jazilyn Nevaeh Mesa’s death was under investigation by Las Cruces police detectives and prosecutors of the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Las Cruces, N.M., Sun-News reported. OnTuesday, September 11, Las Cruces Police arrested the girl’s father Jesus Mesa, 21, and her grandparents, Leticia I. Mesa, 52; and Arthur “Arturo” Mesa, Sr., 57; at the home at 819 Stone Canyon Drive–where toddler Jazilyn Mesa, was mauled to death.
Leticia Mesa was charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death and was booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center with bond set at $15,000. Bond for Arturo Mesa Sr. and Jesus Mesa was set at $10,000 each and each was charged with one count of possession of a dangerous dog resulting in death, police reported.
All three suspects posted bond on Tuesday, September 11, and returned home in the afternoon, according to Sun News.com.
Neighbor Jose Gomez, stated, “There’s no excuse to have a dog like that around a little baby.” He said the two-year-old male Pit Bull had tried to go after him while one of the defendants had it on leash.
Several other neighbors told officers that the Mesas’ pit bull, named Tyson, had shown aggression toward them and their dogs prior to the attack which killed little Jazilyn, and at one time had mauled another dog, tearing its scalp off, according to Sun News.com.
An elderly neighbor told police that the Mesa’s Pit Bull once attacked him and his German shepherd, but they pleaded with him not to file a report. Another neighbor said Leticia Mesa laughed off her concerns about the dog’s aggression, according to court records.
Jazilyn Mesa’s mother and maternal grandparents also said they had expressed concern with the Pit Bull being “rambunctious and untrained” prior to the baby’s birth on Jan. 26, 2011, and asked the Mesa family to get rid of the dog, according to the police report. Jazilyn’s mother also told police Leticia Mesa thought she was being overprotective, according to court documents.
On May 8, when little Jazilyn was mauled, Leticia Mesa was supposedly watching the baby. She told reporter that she left Jazilyn alone for just a moment and almost instantly, the dog attacked the infant. The grandmother said she ran into the backyard and tried to pull the Pit Bull off the baby while she screamed for help.
Neighbors said they first knew about the attack when they heard six to eight gunshots just before 11:30 a.m. Leticia Mesa was shot in the leg by a neighbor who heard her screams and was trying to stop the Pit Bull from attacking the woman and the child.
Barry Snyder, a 69-year-old neighbor heard the grandmother’s cries for help as she tried to stop the Pit Bull from mauling the little girl and, after calling 911, he retrieved his .45-caliber handgun from inside his house and went to help the two victims.
Police report that Snyder fired several rounds before killing the dog and one bullet struck the grandmother in the leg. The neighbor then followed the Pit Bull and fatally shot it near the side of the house. (Read more: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/1-week-new-mexico-2-deaths-pit-bulls)
Little Jaziilyn, who weighed only 23 pounds, had injuries to her arms and feet consistent with having been dragged across the ground. She also had brain swelling consistent with shaken-baby syndrome–the result of being shaken by the dog–according to the Medical Investigator’s report.
Leticia Mesa was treated for her bullet wounds at University Medical Center of El Paso, and was interviewed twice by police. She gave inconsistent statements to detectives about the events leading up to the attack, according to Sun News.com. Police said her account was inconsistent with the child’s injuries, because Leticia Mesa was not injured, even though she claimed to be holding the girl during the attack.
At first the baby’s father, Jesus Mesa, told police that Tyson had never acted aggressively but later admitted that the Pit Bull had injured another dog and had also attacked an elderly man who was walking past their house.
Leticia Mesa admitted to detectives that, despite promises to the Jazilyn’s mother, she allowed the baby girl to be outside without locking the dog in a kennel. According to court documents, the grandparents told police they had never seen the dog act in an aggressive manner and that they “were training him to be sociable.”