Sabine Davidson of Milford was convicted in January 1998 and is serving a 12-year prison sentence. She had remained free during her appeal until the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the conviction in July 1999.
The court said that Davidson "created an unreasonable risk and then consciously disregarded it in a manner and to the extent that it reasonably could be inferred that she was extremely indifferent to the value of human life."
Christopher Wilson, 11, was killed on April 24, 1997, when attacked by three Rottweilers as he and his brother were waiting for their school bus. The boys climbed a tree to get away, but when Christopher came down he was attacked and dragged some 70 feet to a ravine.
Davidson's husband, Jeffrey, had also been charged with unintentional second-degree murder, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and was placed on probation. He was not allowed to own dogs during that probation period.
Sabine Davidson dug her heels in and absolutely refused to take any plea offer that would have spared her prison time. Her attorney was quoted as saying she didn't feel like she didn't anything wrong. However, during the trial numerous neighbors testified as to the aggressive behavior of the dogs. Trainers from a sort-of protection dog training club (think police K9 training) testified that Sabine Davidson brought her dogs there often, couldn't control them and was basically a weirdo that they didn't want around. Neighbors also testified that they saw men in the Davidsons' yard wearing those bite-sleeves that police dog trainers use to have the dogs attack them.
It was clear that the dogs were: aggressive, trained even more to be like a guard dog, able to get out and escape the Davidson property seemingly whenever they wished, and the Davidsons had created and cultivated these deadly weapons that eventually attacked and killed a child.
Sabine Davidson was back in Geary County District Court on Wednesday, asking Judge Larry E. Bengtson for a new trial or appeal on grounds that she had ineffective legal representation in the first appeal.
She contends that Keith Sevedge of Lenexa, the court-appointed attorney representing her during the appeals process, failed to bring up pertinent issues that would have helped her case.
Ralph DeZago, arguing on her behalf Wednesday, said an appellate court will address only issues brought to its attention, and that other issues that the trial attorney listed as pertinent "just didn't get raised."
DeZago would not say any one particular issue was more important than another.
"This poor lady is here with all these issues that needed to be raised, and they weren't," he told the court.
At the trial, Davidson and her attorney had raised the possibility that dogs other than her Rottweilers were responsible for the attack. That issue surfaced again Wednesday when DeZago questioned what had happened to teeth scrapings ordered to be taken from the Rottweilers after the attack.
Results of the scrapings were never presented in court during the trial. DNA from the scrapings, DeZago contends, could have shown if the dogs that did the mauling were in fact Davidson's.
Ron Hodgson, who represented Davidson at the trial, was asked Wednesday why he did not press that issue. He said that as defense attorney it was not his responsibility to prove whether the victim's DNA was or was not present on Davidson's dogs, which were killed by Geary County deputies on the day of the attack.
"It was not the defense's job to do that," Hodgson said.
THE LITTLE BOY'S BROTHER WAS AN EYEWITNESS. THE SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SAW THE THREE ROTTWEILERS ATTACKING THE LITTLE BOY. THE FIRST DEPUTY TO ARRIVE SAW THE DOGS ATTACKING THE LITTLE BOY; HE SHOT AND KILLED THE LARGE MALE 80-LB ROTTWEILER, CAUSING THE TWO SMALLER FEMALE ROTTWEILERS TO RUN AWAY.
However, he said he did argue to the jury that the prosecution had not brought up that evidence.
Beth Gillmer-Jones, a sheriff's detective who was the principle evidence custodian during the case, said oral scrapings were taken from the dogs and that to the best of her knowledge those results are still at Kansas State University, where the dogs were examined.
"I did not receive any swabbings or slides," she said.
The judge is expected to issue a written decision in a week or two.
(The Topeka Capital-Journal - April 25, 2002)
Dog owner’s request for retrial in fatal mauling case denied
A woman whose dogs fatally mauled an 11-year-old boy will remain in prison after a judge denied her request for a new trial, Geary County Atty. Chris Biggs said Monday.
Sabine Davidson was convicted in 1997 of unintentional second-degree murder, after her three Rottweilers attacked and killed Christopher Wilson of Milford while he waited for a school bus.
The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the conviction in 1999.
In April, Davidson challenged her conviction, saying her trial attorney was ineffective, and failed to have DNA testing done on scrapings from the dogs' mouths.
She also alleged that her attorney on appeal was ineffective for not raising additional issues during the appeals process.
(Associated Press - June 18, 2002)
- Kansas: Frenzied Rottweilers chase, attack and kill Kansas boy, 11
- Kansas: Sabine Davidson refused to take a plea deal after her Rottweilers chased, mauled and killed an 11-year old boy. A jury just found her GUILTY of 2nd degree murder.
- Kansas: Sabine Davidson refused to take a plea deal on a charge of involuntary manslaughter after her Rottweilers attacked and killed an 11-year-old boy. Last month a jury convicted Sabine of 2nd degree murder. This convinced her husband Jeffrey Davidson not to risk a jury trial; he took the original plea offer of involuntary manslaughter and is sentenced to probation
- Kansas: Sabine Davidson's attorney complains that her murder charge is excessive. Her Rottweilers chased, attacked, mauled and killed 11-year-old Chris Wilson
- Kansas: Sabine Davidson was convicted of reckless 2nd-degree murder after her Rottweiler mauled an 11-year-old boy to death. Davidson's appeal, which was denied, says she "conveniently ignores significant aspects of her conduct that contributed to the tragic death of Chris"
- Kansas: Sabine Davidson's murder conviction upheld after her Rottweilers attacked and killed an 11-year-old boy