Owner of Jewelz the German shepherd found not guilty in dog bite incident
March 10, 2017
Almost a year to the day after Jewelz the German shepherd bit a then-7-year-old boy, a Weld County jury deliberated into the evening Friday to find her owner was not at fault in the incident.
Robert Castillo was found not guilty of one count of unlawful ownership of a dangerous dog in connection with the bite, which occurred March 14, 2016. Castillo's mother often took care of Davion Diaz and his siblings after school. According to police and prosecutors, Jewelz bit Davion while he was cleaning scraps of a bone off the floor near the dog.
Defense attorneys maintained throughout the trial the boy provoked the dog.
The path the case took was long and twisting, with Castillo switching attorneys multiple times and making an eleventh-hour change in his decisions on how to plead. The trial began Wednesday and included two days of testimony.
Prosecutors also said it was not the first time the dog bit a child. Winter referenced an earlier incident in which Jewelz bit Davion's younger brother.
Throughout the case, prosecutors used photos of Davion's injuries to drive their points home.
"Let the evidence speak for itself," said Travis Winter, one of the prosecutors in the case. "It's a common saying. In a case like this, where the evidence is so straightforward, so clear cut, I'm a little tempted to use it."
The child received stitches in his ear and staples to the back of his head. He still has scars.
"You saw him walk right here," Winter said, gesturing in front of the jury box and referencing Wednesday, when Davion appeared in the courtroom to testify. "You saw how his ear looks today."
Winter also pointed out none of the witnesses who testified for Castillo were in the room with Jewelz and Davion on the day the bite happened. They were either immediate family of Castillo or expert witnesses, such as veterinarians, who didn't have firsthand knowledge of the incident.
Castillo's attorneys maintained Davion provoked the dog, and had been provoking Jewelz for a long time leading up to March 14.
Joseph Moro, one of Castillo's lawyers, cited earlier testimony that Davion's home life was turbulent at the time, and he was taking out his emotions on the dog.
He also referenced the words of veterinarians who spoke earlier in the week and said, in their opinion, something must have provoked Jewelz to make her act in the way she did. To support this, he cited a video in which a former animal control officer performed a test on Jewelz. She placed a rawhide bone near the dog and tried to provoke the animal. The German shepherd did not act aggressively.
"Davion was provoking this kid for a long time leading up to this event," Moro said.