First day of trial for man in the case of Jewelz the German Shepherd
March 8, 2017
The case of Robert Castillo, charged with owning a dangerous dog, is scheduled to finish through Friday.
Dressed in a plaid button-up shirt and playing with a marker in his hands, 8-year-old Davion Diaz on Wednesday stood waist-high to the cluster of attorneys huddled around Weld County Court Judge Charles Unfug. For about 40 minutes, those attorneys asked him questions about the day — almost a year ago — when Jewelz the German Shepherd bit him in the face, tearing off a part of his ear and ultimately sending him to the hospital to receive stitches to his face and staples in his head.
It was the first day of trial in the case of Robert Castillo, the dog's owner, who is charged with one count of owning a dangerous dog. Police and prosecutors say on March 14 the dog bit Davion while the child was staying at Castillo's home. Prosecutors and police say Castillo should have known the dog was dangerous because there were prior incidents in which the dog demonstrated aggressive behavior, including snapping at another child.
In March 2016, Davion had been attending daycare at the Castillo house for about a year. Rashaad Shirazi, Castillo's attorney, said Castillo's mother ran a daycare service until 2015, but Davion's mother paid her to provide daycare services for her three children even after that. Jewelz was a fixture in the house, Shirazi said, and most of the children knew the dog. None of them, he said, ever complained about the dog before.
After school March 14, when Davion was at the Castillo house, one of the adults in the house asked him to clean up pieces of a bone Jewelz had been chewing on. Davion said he grabbed a plastic bag and bent to scoop the bone fragments from the floor.
Davion spent the better part of an hour in court Wednesday describing what happened next.
Joseph Moro, another one of Castillo's attorneys, asked Davion to use a chair, a pen and a few paper clips to act out where he was in relation to the dog. Lillie Parker, one of the prosecutors in the case, asked Davion to map out the room on the easel, complete with furniture and the dog's location. Both setups provided a backdrop for Davion's testimony.
"(Jewelz) growled," Davion said. "I tried to get away but then (she) bit me. It hurt."
In her opening statements, Parker said it wasn't the first time Jewelz had acted aggressively toward Davion and his brother. Adeliane Wagner, the boy's mother, said she knew the dog had been aggressive before but she kept sending Davion to the Castillos' house because she was short on money.
"I don't get any assistance and I needed them to watch the kids while I was at work," she said.
Shirazi said the incident came after Davion and his brother had antagonized the dog for a long period of time. He said in the past Davion and his brother had pulled on the dog's tail, thrown things at her and put their fingers in her nose. He said they continued to provoke the dog even after being told not to.
"The only reason she bit Davion Diaz that day is because he provoked her," Shirazi said.
At about 4:30 p.m., Unfug said Davion needed a break.
The trial is set to resume at 8 a.m. today.