Owner of pit bulls that killed boy gets 1 year in prison, probation

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An emotional day in court as the judge believed the owner of the dogs that killed little Xavier was remorseful.

But in the end he felt it was his responsibility to make sure the public was protected.

Geneke Lyons has been sentenced to five years’ probation and will spend the first 12 months in jail with work release for the mauling death of Xavier Strickland.

"I can't get him back, he doesn't know how it feels to bury a child," said Lucille Strickland. "He does not know how it feels to be attacked by those animals."

Lucille Strickland broke down in tears as she spoke out at the sentencing of the man who owned the dogs that mauled her 4-year-old boy Xavier to death.

Last December, Xavier was walking with his mother on Baylis Street when four pit bulls tore through Geneke Lyons' fence and pulled the boy from his mother's grip.

The judge dropped the second degree murder charge, but a jury found Lyons guilty of manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death.

"He could have done something about that fence," Strickland said. "He could have fixed that fence, he could have done something."

And Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan agreed.

Although he felt Lyons would have intervened if he was home and was remorseful, he still felt it was ultimately his responsibility.

"It was your responsibility to have prevented their release so that they could inflict injury on others including Xavier," said Callahan.

The judge sentenced Lyons to five years’ probation with one year of jail time in the county jail.

"I did not produce these dogs to act this way or (taught the) dogs to bite or be vicious to anyone," Lyons said in court. "Or I would have put them down myself."

Now given the opportunity, Lyons apologized directly to an emotional Strickland. Xavier's a tragic death has changed both their lives forever and just like his mother, Lyons says a day doesn't go by that that he doesn't think about Xavier or the horrific way he died.

"Ms. Strickland I am very sorry for your loss, I don't know if I'm ever going to get right," Lyons said. "I might not ever get right. So I pray that you and your family get through it as well as mine."

"I understand what you are saying and I am willing to forgive you for it, for what your dogs did," Strickland said.

Lyons will be spending a year in jail with a work release and he is not allowed to own a dog again.