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Family Members Held

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LAS CRUCES — Police on Monday evening arrested the grandparents and father of a 15-month-old girl who died after being mauled by a pet pit bull at the family residence.

Leticia I. Mesa, the child’s 52-year-old paternal grandmother at whose home the mauling occurred on the morning of May 8, was charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death, a first-degree felony.

The child’s paternal grandfather, Arthur Mesa Sr., 57, and 21-year-old father Jesus Mesa, who also reside at the home, were each charged with one count of possession of a dangerous dog resulting in death, third-degree felonies.

The Mesas’ pit bull, a 2-year-old, 90-pound dog named Tyson, had shown aggressive behavior toward neighbors or their dogs before the attack, police said.

In addition, Leticia Mesa told one neighbor that the pit bull previously attacked another Mesa family dog, leaving that pet with a severe scalp injury, police said.

A veterinarian who had treated the family’s pets said that Tyson had shown “signs of aggression” and the dog had to be muzzled the one time it was treated at the vet’s clinic, according to the investigation conducted by Las Cruces police and the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The child, Jazilyn Mesa, died from injuries sustained during the mauling after she was rushed to a local hospital.

During the attack, a 69-year-old neighbor heard Leticia Mesa screaming for help and saw the grandmother trying to cover the child during the attack. The neighbor retrieved a .45-caliber handgun from his home, returned to the Mesa home and shot the dog twice. Leticia Mesa sustained a gunshot injury to her thigh and foot when the neighbor fired an initial shot that missed the charging dog.

Las Cruces police said the child’s mother, who did not reside at the Mesas’ home, did not know about the dog’s aggressive behavior prior to the mauling, but she was concerned about her daughter’s safety because of the pit bull’s size and because he appeared undisciplined.

Before Jazilyn Mesa’s birth in late January 2011, the child’s mother and maternal grandparents asked the Mesa family to get rid of the dog. When the Mesas refused, the child’s mother demanded that Tyson be placed in a kennel when the child was visiting the home.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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