By Malaika Fraley / Contra Costa Times
MARTINEZ — Citing a notorious San Francisco dog mauling case as precedent, a Contra Costa prosecutor asked a judge Wednesday to charge a Concord man with murder in connection with the fatal pit bull mauling of his 2-year-old step-grandson. The judge is expected to make a ruling July 14.
Steven Hayashi should be tried for second-degree murder under the “implied malice theory” because he knew his five pit bulls were dangerous and made no attempt to protect toddler Jacob Bisbee before he left the child home without adult supervision, deputy district attorney Mary Knox argued at Hayashi’s preliminary hearing.
Knox said other courts found Marjorie Knoller’s failure to muzzle her two Presa Canario dogs before they fatally mauled Saint Mary’s College lacrosse coach Diane Whipple in a San Francisco apartment building in 2001 was sufficient enough to convict Knoller of second-degree murder under the same theory. Knoller is currently serving 15 years to life in prison.
Hayashi, 53, is charged with child abuse or neglect and owning a mischievous animal causing death, both felonies. His attorney on Wednesday argued that all of the blame lies with Jacob’s father, Michael Bisbee, because he failed to make child care arrangements for Jacob and his 4-year-old brother. Hayashi had no inkling the dogs posed a threat, according to attorney Pamela Lauser.
The defense argument contradicts testimony by a Concord police detective as well as Hayashi’s jailhouse interviews with multiple media agencies. Hayashi told police and reporters that he was charged with taking care of the boys when their dad was at work and he knew the dogs were aggressive toward people and animals. The dogs had killed the family Chihuahua and parrot, caused their Akita to have a heart attack, and in the week before Jacob’s death, nipped at the boy as Hayashi was cradling him in his arms, a detective testified Hayashi said.
Hayashi was out playing tennis with his 13-year-old son, his wife was sleeping, and Michael Bisbee was at work about 8 a.m. July 22, 2010, when Jacob wandered into the family’s garage through an unlocked door and was attacked by three of the pit bulls. The boy bled to death during the lengthy attack in which pieces of his body were bitten or torn off.
An animal services officer testified Wednesday that in his 24 years dealing with vicious animals, he had never seen a pack of dogs in such an fighting frenzy. Usually, aggressive dogs will bite at a snare pole when it is waved at them, but these dogs “went for our flesh,” Officer Joseph DeCosta said.
Jacob’s grandmother Leticia Hayashi testified on her husband’s behalf Wednesday and also characterized the attack as her son Michael’s fault for not arranging child care. Police said she told them numerous times that she begged her husband to get rid of the dogs because they were dangerous, but on Wednesday, she testified she never said such a thing.
“I was grieving that day,” Leticia Hayashi said. “I wasn’t thinking right.”
Read more updates: Mercury News