SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. – A dog owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday for allowing her pit bulls to run loose and kill an 82-year-old woman.
Deanna Large, 37, was found guilty in the death of Dorothy Sullivan, who was attacked March 8 by three pit bulls while she took her shih tzu for a walk.
The jury recommended Large serve three years in prison. The judge has the option to reduce the sentence, but cannot increase it when Large is sentenced Feb. 24.
Large was also found guilty of two misdemeanor charges of allowing her dogs to run loose. She could have gotten up to 10 years in prison.
Large's attorney contended that prosecutors never proved her ownership of the pit bulls that attacked Sullivan, and that Large had no knowledge that her dogs were dangerous.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, lawyer Eugene Frost said: "The lesson is learned. She won't own pit bulls again. Deanna Large feels incredibly bad about this."
Prosecutor William Neely asked for the maximum, citing the gruesome nature of the death. Jurors earlier saw autopsy photos showing pieces of Sullivan's scalp torn away and chunks torn from her arm and thigh.
During the trial, witnesses testified that Large's pit bulls menaced the neighborhood. Animal control officers had taken two of the dogs away in 2004 after they were accused of killing a kitten.
At one point, Large had 13 pit bulls living in her doublewide trailer, a detective testified.