Here is the story . . .I tried to find photos of the dogs to no avail.
Published: June 26, 2003 in News
RED BLUFF -- Laura Novach buried her face in a handkerchief and wept Wednesday as Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen described the fatal injuries her 6-year-old son suffered last year when he was mauled by dogs.
During the first day of trial testimony to determine whether an ex-Red Bluff police officer should go to jail for the dog-mauling death of kindergartner Genoe Novach, a forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy recounted the boy's specific external and internal injuries.
There were many.
But Novach was spared that graphically detailed account, waiting outside the courtroom as Dr. Mark Super, chief forensic pathologist for Sacramento County, presented his vivid testimony.
Super, who said Genoe died of hemorrhagic shock, was one of more than a dozen witnesses called by the prosecution in the trial of Charles Dean Schneider, 53, of Red Bluff.
At least two of Schneider's dogs, identified as small Rottweiller-pugs, are believed to have escaped from the back yard of his Palmero Avenue home through a chain-link fence Feb. 7, 2002, and attacked the child as he played in a neighbor's yard.
Cohen, who wants Schneider convicted of felony involuntary manslaughter and owning a mischievous dog that caused death, told the jury during his opening statement that Genoe was a fighter.
As his nearly lifeless body was taken by ambulance to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento following hours of emergency treatment at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff, the boy "hung in there," Cohen said.
But the injuries were too severe. And Genoe was so small, dying en route to UC Davis.
Now, Cohen said, he wants the jury to "do the right thing" and convict Schneider because the former police officer was responsible for keeping his dogs under control.
If convicted, Schneider faces a maximum of four years and eight months in jail.
Thomas Hilligan, Schneider's Red Bluff attorney, said his client won't deny that he had an obligation to try to keep his dogs inside his yard.
But, he said, he attempted to meet that obligation by covering holes in the chain-link fence with boards, rocks and other items.
And, he said, the dogs, although untrained, never generated complaints to animal control officers and, to Schneider's knowledge, never displayed vicious tendencies.
"They were not mean, aggressive animals," Hilligan said.
Still, he said, he planned to call witnesses during the trial who will testify that the dogs would bark and run away from Genoe because they had seen the boy provoke the dogs by poking them with a stick.
"We can only guess what happened in the moments before the attack," he said.
Hilligan, who also stressed that his client cooperated with authorities investigating the boy's death, refused to say whether he might put his client on the witness stand.
Among those called to testify were Tehama County sheriff's deputies who investigated the attack, Palmero Avenue residents who said Schneider's dogs were often seen loose in the neighborhood, as well as Genoe's father, Anthony.
During his testimony, Anthony Novach, who broke down in tears as he described finding his bloodied son shortly after the attack, said he had before told Schneider that his loose dogs were becoming a problem for neighbors.
"Mostly, he just ignored me," said Novach, noting that he recently had Genoe's pet dog euthanized because a neighbor complained that the animal had displayed aggressive behavior toward her daughter.
Under cross-examination, Novach told Hilligan that he and his wife had filed a civil lawsuit against Schneider in connection with their son's death.
"Yeah, we're suing him," he said. "I think you would, too."
During a court recess, however, a longtime family friend of Schneider said the former police officer should not be held criminally responsible for Genoe's tragic death.
"He is a kind man who wouldn't hurt anyone," said Leah Moore of Orland, noting that she has known Schneider since he was a boy. "He's a good man."
The trial resumes today