CALIFORNIA IN BRIEF : SAN JOSE : Pit Bull Owner Tried in Death of Child

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

In the first case of its kind, the owner of a pit bull dog went on trial in San Jose in the killing of a toddler mauled after wandering into the dog's path while, prosecutors say, it was guarding 243 marijuana plants. Michael Berry, 39, of Morgan Hill, is charged with second-degree murder for the 1987 death of James Soto, a 2-year-old neighbor, who died of severe blood loss after being attacked by Berry's dog. Berry also faces felony marijuana cultivation charges. In a search of Berry's home, authorities said they found several publications on illegal dog fighting and a dog-sized conditioning treadmill. Berry has said that he has been singled out because his dog attacked a child at a time when the breed was the center of considerable negative publicity.

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