old Jacob Bisbee was mauled to death by three pit bulls (often considered a
dangerous breed) owned by his
step-grandfather, Steven Hayashi. The
tragedy occurred in 2010. According to Contra Costa County prosecuting attorney Mary Knox:
- Hayashi repeatedly ignored pleas by his wife and Jacob’s
father to remove his five pit bulls from the home the extended family shared on
- July 22, 2010: Hayashi was designated as the caretaker
for Jacob and his four year old brother while his wife slept after a night
- Hayashi went out to play tennis with his son, leaving
Jacob and the brother unsupervised.
- Hayashi did not lock the door to the garage where the
pit bulls were kept. He knew the boys
could uopen the door but they usually stayed in their room.
- Jacob wandered into the garage and found three of the
five pit bulls (the other two were in the yard)
The legal question to be answered is not whether Hayashi
intended for this tragedy to happen but whether the dog attack constituted a
crime. Hayashi is currently being tried
for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years
In a jailhouse interview with the San Francisco Chronicle,
Hayashi acknowledged that he had ignored signs which would warn him of the dogs’
dangerous propensities. Those signs
included one of the dogs killing his Chihuahua.
Hayashi is seeking acquittal and is being represented by
attorney David Cohen. Over Cohen’s objections,
Knox opened the trial last week by showing photos taken at a hospital of the
little boy’s disfigured body.
Cohen was quoted as saying “The D.A.’s case is all about the
terrible photos and a terrible tragedy and that somebody’s got to pay. This family and my client have suffered
tremendously. He certainly didn’t intend
for this to happen.”
This is certainly a tragedy.
Whether Hayashi’s negligence will rise to the level of a guilty verdict
is a question to be decided during this trial.
In my practice I’ve represented, and continue to represent,
many victims of dog attacks. This is a tragedy that could have, and should have, been avoided.