OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An Oklahoma City man has been found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter after his two dogs attacked and mauled an 82-year-old woman to death in their neighborhood in 2017.
After closing arguments on Friday, the jury deliberated for more than seven hours before returning the verdict.
“My client [has] waited four years for this day, and this was an extraordinarily tough case,” said defense attorney Ed Blau. “Not easy on anybody. I appreciate the jury. I appreciate them listening to the evidence, looking at the law and coming to the decision they did.”
The prosecution and the victim’s family were unavailable for comment.
During trial, the prosecution claimed that Burks should ultimately be held responsible after his two dogs killed 82-year-old Cecille Short and her small dog. The state called it a crime of negligence, saying Burks was aware of the dogs’ propensity, or aggressive nature. The prosecution requested to the jury that Burks face the maximum recommendation of four years in prison.
The defense didn’t challenge that Burks’ dogs were ultimately responsible for Short’s death, but it did argue that he couldn’t have known they would attack and kill someone. They added the dogs were family pets who were not only friendly with Burks but with his children and others.
“They were bought from a reputable breeder,” Blau said. “They were well trained. We had witness after witness testify they didn’t think something like this could happen.”
Both dogs were shot and killed by police during the incident in 2017.
“Long verdicts are excruciating, but that just means they were taking their time, reading the law and doing everything they could to come to the right decision,” Blau said. “My client has several young children. I’m so happy for him and his family to be able to [return] home to their lives.”