Any person (the dog owner or someone who controls, harbors or keeps the dog) may be guilty of involuntary manslaughter for a death caused by negligence. Here are examples:
In November 1986, three dogs jumped through a broken window and killed a young boy in Decatur, Georgia. The owner of the dogs, Hayward Turnipseed, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
In 1987, Michael Berry of Morgan Hill, California, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after his pit bull killed a 2-year-old child, James Soto.
In 2000, pet sitter James Chiavetta of Barstow, California, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter because he left open a gate, allowing a pit bull that he was deathly afraid of to kill 10-year-old Cash Carson.
In 2005, 2-year-old Jonathan Martin was mauled to death by his parents’ pit bulls, which were used to guard their marijuana plants. His parents, James Martin and Heather Frango of Whaleyville, Virginia, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter following their toddler’s death.
In the Diane Whipple case, both of the defendants, Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter, among other things. (See The Diane Whipple Case on this web site, www.dogbitelaw.com.)
For more, see CALCRIM, the California jury instructions for criminal cases.