Pit bulls' owner gets prison; victim's husband recalls 'horrific' death

Pit bulls' owner gets prison; victim's husband recalls 'horrific' death
Alex Donald Jackson, right, reacts with his defense attorney Al Kim as Jackson's brother pleads for leniency during his sentencing for the second degree murder of Pamela Devitt. Jackson's pit bulls mauled to death 63-year-old Pamela Devitt in May 2013. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

When Ben Devitt last saw his wife, she was working out on her elliptical machine. The Antelope Valley residents had recently become dedicated to improving their physical health, motivated by plans to move closer to their grandson.

"She was hell-bent on on taking care of herself," Devitt said.


But the following morning, Pamela Devitt, 63, was fatally attacked by four pit bulls while taking her daily walk through her Littlerock neighborhood.

"Her story shouldn't have ended in such a horrific way," Devitt, 67, said Friday in a Lancaster courtroom just before the dogs' owner was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

The retired truck mechanic struggled to get the words out, growing emotional as he described his wife as a seamstress and a piano player with a creative mind.

Alex Jackson was convicted of second-degree murder in August after a jury found that the 31-year-old knew his dogs were dangerous before the May 2013 attack.

Pamela Devitt suffered up to 200 puncture wounds. Nearly all of her hair was gone and her skull was exposed.

Her husband said he had supported the district attorney's case because he wanted to send a message to other dog owners that they must train and confine their animals.

In a nation of about 75 million dogs, fatal attacks are rare. In the last two decades or so, only a handful of dog owners have been tried for murder.

Prosecutors alleged that Jackson was not just negligent but knew that his animals could endanger someone's life and showed a conscious disregard for that danger. They argued that Jackson's dogs were involved in at least seven other altercations in the 18 months leading up to Devitt's attack.

"His actions in this case show that he has a nearly psychopathic disregard for the lives and well-being of others," wrote Deputy Dist. Atty. Ryan Williams in a sentencing memo. "He simply does not care that his actions might harm or even kill the other people who live in this community."

Jackson testified that he was unaware of most of the previous incidents involving his dogs and would have gotten rid of them had he known they were capable of killing.

"I feel terrible about it. This isn't anything that I orchestrated or planned, that I wanted to have happen," he said on the stand during the trial.

A jury of seven women and five men found Jackson guilty after less than one day of deliberations. They also found him guilty of cultivating marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of a controlled substance.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Chung sentenced him to seven years in jail for the remaining charges, which will be served concurrently with his prison time.

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