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Hung jury in Maureen Faibish dog-mauling trial

Bay City News Service

July 31, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - With the possibility of a retrial looming, Maureen Faibish appeared cautiously relieved today following a jury's deadlocked decision regarding child endangerment charges filed against her stemming from her son's fatal pit bull mauling in San Francisco in 2005

Faibish faced charges of felony child endangerment and misdemeanor child endangerment. The jury voted 10 in favor of acquittal and two against acquittal on the felony charge. Seven jury members voted to find Faibish guilty and five voted to acquit on the misdemeanor charge, according to Linda Klee, chief of administration for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

"It was a difficult case. It was a tragedy," Klee said following the verdicts. "There was sympathy for (Faibish) and you never know how that is going to affect a jury's decision."

The prosecution maintained that Faibish, 40, left her 12-year-old son Nicholas home alone on June 3, 2005, with a dangerous predator and willfully did so knowing that he had already been bitten earlier that day.

The prosecution claimed that Faibish knew that Rex, the unneutered male dog, and Ella, the unspayed female pit bull, were capable of causing serious injury. Prosecutor Linda Moore said Faibish left her son home and told him to remain in the basement with a shovel barring the door.

Prosecutors said Faibish knew her son would leave the basement because he had only a soda and chips for sustenance and a toilet that was backed up and useless.

Furthermore, Moore claimed that evidence pointed to the fact that Nicholas had a learning disability and that there was no way of knowing whether he would follow his mother's directions to stay in the basement and away from the dogs.

The prosecution's claim that Rex was an aggressive predator drew a stark contrast to photos of the Faibish family, dogs included, taken a few months before the mauling.

Pictures of Rex dressed in a San Francisco 49ers sweatshirt, and another of him sitting next to Nicholas on a couch, reiterated the defense's claim that the pit bulls were family dogs.

"They understand that people make mistakes. That parents make mistakes," Faibish's defense attorney Lidia Stiglich said of the jury. "They just thought it was a tragedy. They had problems making that criminal."

Stiglich said that while Faibish is relieved by the outcome of the trial, she realizes there is still the prospect of a second trial.

"This whole thing has been devastating for her personally, for her whole family," Stiglich said. "Obviously this matter's not done so it's hard for them to put it behind them."

Stiglich said Faibish planned to return home to Oregon where her family now lives with a new dog, this one a Labrador retriever. She said

Faibish would return to court on Sept. 11 to discuss whether the district attorney's office intends to seek a retrial.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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