Emma Hernandez

DETROIT - Reuters
Girl, 9, mauled to death by 3 dogs in US; owner charged

The owner of three dogs that mauled a 9-year-old girl to death in Detroit earlier this week was in jail on Friday (Aug 23), held on a US$2 million bond on charges that include second-degree murder.

Pierre Cleveland, 33, was arrested and charged on Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and having dangerous animals, as well as the murder charge, several media outlets, including the Detroit Free Press, reported.

The child, Emma Hernandez, 9, was riding her bicycle near her home in Detroit on Monday, the last day of summer vacation, when she was attacked and killed by the dogs despite efforts by neighbours to save her.

One neighbour used a brick to hit the dogs and a second neighbour shot one with a pistol, media reports said.

Cleveland's family cried during his hearing on Thursday, where he entered a not guilty plea, media reported.

His attorney, Emmett Greenwood, asked the judge for a reduced bond, describing the US$2 million set as "outrageous" because his client has no criminal record and was not a flight risk. The judge declined.

Cleveland's Detroit home is across the street from where the child lived, and news media reported that neighbours had long complained to the city about his dogs running loose through a broken fence.

According to AP, the girl's father, Armando Hernandez, said the man was warned that the fence was too flimsy to hold the dogs.

A makeshift memorial of balloons, flowers and toy animals was setup in front of the child's home by well-wishers. Memorials for the child were being planned for the weekend.

A GoFundMe page was also set up to help cover the cost of Emma's funeral.

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