DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton couple whose dogs mauled a neighbor to death were found guilty Tuesday.
Andrew Nason and Julie Custer were set to go on trial Tuesday, but pleaded no contest in Dayton Municipal Court. A judge found them guilty of failure to control the dogs.
Both now face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count.
The death of Klonda Richey sparked new debate about vicious dogs in our state.
She was attacked and killed by two dogs outside her home on Bruce Avenue in February 2014.
The dogs were registered to Custer, but Nason also lived on the property.
Richey’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming the defendants, including the Montgomery County commissioners and the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, knew Richey’s life was in danger and did not do enough to assist her.
Richey filed at least 12 reports before the attack claiming the dogs were dangerous. 2 NEWS obtained video of Richey testifying in court about how dangerous the dogs were.
The tragedy also sparked lawmakers into action introducing a bill that would allow owners of vicious dogs that attack to be charged with a felony.
Custer and Nason faced only misdemeanor charges. Both are awaiting sentencing.
2 NEWS reached out to both the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office and local lawmakers.
Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. provided the following statement:
“I want to commend City of Dayton Prosecutor Stephanie Cook and the Dayton Prosecutor’s Office for successfully prosecuting and convicting these defendants for a violation of a City of Dayton ordinance. Our office presented the case to the Montgomery County Grand Jury in September, 2014, but the grand jury determined there was insufficient evidence to support a felony criminal indictment. Hopefully, with the additional training we’ve provided and a renewed emphasis on enforcement and investigation by the Animal Resource Center and law enforcement, incidents involving dangerous dogs will be greatly reduced.”
Meanwhile, State Senator Bill Beagle (R, District 5) tells 2 NEWS he is relieved that the two dog owners will be held responsible.
“At least they’ll face some form of punishment,” he said. “You know, we’re working hard to take a hard look at, you know, cases like this to make sure that appropriate punishments can be dealt with and better yet trying to avoid the situation to begin with.”
Beagle sponsored legislation immediately following Richey’s death but it did not pass.
He has new legislation pending, the Klonda Richey Act, that he hopes to bring to the State Congress before June.
The state senator says the law will give more authority to animal wardens and create harsher penalties to avoid this type of outcome.