In order for County Court at Law #2 Judge, Eric Shepperd, to decide what happens to a set of dogs involved in mauling an Austin woman to death in June of 2016, a jury has to answer one question: did those dogs do the deadly deed all together?
That is the purpose of a civil trial going on right now and that is what the Travis County Attorney's Office is trying to prove. The defense contends only one dog killed 36-year-old Erin McCleskey and that was the mother dog who just gave birth to a litter of puppies. The defense has said the dog attacked because she was protecting her young.
On June 15, 2016, there were six adult dogs at the Manor home and between 14 to 15 puppies roaming outside on the property when McCleskey delivered some legal papers. It was her second or third time on the property, testified her stepfather, Michael Shapiro.
There were no eyewitnesses so no one really knows what happened that day except McCleskey, state attorneys said.
But several graphic images painted a clear enough picture for the jury. McCleskey had 455 puncture wounds from head to toe. Dog or dogs crushed her throat so badly that she couldn't scream. The big arteries on her arm and leg were punctured and blood was squirting out testified one Travis County Sheriff deputy. Prosecutors said these injuries could not have been done by one dog. The photos showed blood everywhere. One ear was missing. Flesh was missing. It was a relief that loved ones had already left the courtroom.
The first deputy on scene testified how the dogs were calm at first, but suddenly, three of them just "flipped" and started circling him. The deputy said he was in fear and drew his weapon.
The dogs were impounded from the property and put into solitary confinement. The sixth dog died of heartworm disease this past summer.
Testimony continues Tuesday morning at 8:45.