No charges in deadly dog attack

Authorities in Knox County say they won’t file criminal charges in the deadly dog attack that killed a 7-year old boy from Galesburg, Illinois in March.

Ryan Maxwell died after he was bitten in the face and throat by a pit bull owned by family friends. Prosecutors say after reviewing police reports, they don’t believe there is a state law that would stick against either the pit bull’s owners or caretakers.

“As we stand here today. we don’t have a crime. We have to determine did anybody at the house, any adult responsible for taking care of those dogs or those children think that what they were doing was ever going to result in anybody being harmed? And the answer is no,” said Assistant Knox County States Attorney, Elisa Tanner.

The boy’s grandfather says he is frustrated by the decision not to prosecute and says laws need to be changed.

“It’s like getting away with the perfect murder, you can do this to anybody. All you do is chain your dog in the backyard and bring some guy over you don’t like and let the dog kill him,” Tom Mead said. “It’s really, really upsetting,” he said.

Ryan had stayed the night at the home and was playing outside when one of two pit bulls chained in the backyard, attacked him.

According to a police report, some neighbors interviewed by investigators said they had been frightened by some of the dogs in the past, including Ghost, the pit bull that mauled Ryan. Some say they called police and animal control about their concerns about the dogs, but police say they have no record of any dangerous dog calls to the home.

The police report states the dog’s owner, Ashiya Ferguson and her boyfriend, Jereme Carter, previously lived in nearby Monmouth, and were cited by police there last year over two loose pit bulls, which police say were aggressive to the responding officer. Carter was issued a ticket for dogs at large.

Three months later while still in Monmouth, an officer responded to Carter’s home to investigate a report of two pit bulls not having food. The officer states he saw no evidence of food, but “couldn’t get close due to the dogs acting aggressive,” and left a note for the owner.

Carter is now in jail, charged with murder in an unrelated case.  Ferguson was issued two citations after the deadly attack in Galesburg, for failing to register the animals.

Prosecutors say they understand Mead’s frustration, but they can’t find a state statute that applies to the tragic attack.

“My grandson went over there to have a good time and ended up getting killed by a dog that’s been bred to kill, that’s what it’s bred to do. This ain’t over yet, I guarantee that,” Mead said.

For more coverage of this story, click here.

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