DETROIT – The owner of four pit bulls that killed a 4-year-old Detroit boy directly apologized to the boy's mother in court on Thursday, adding that he was feeling the loss, too.
Geneke Lyons got teary-eyed as he told Lucille Strickland that he wished he could turn back the hands of time to save 4-year-old Xavier.
Xavier Strickland was walking with his mother in December when they were attacked by the dogs. Police had to shoot the animals to free the boy's body.
Strickland said she wakes up every morning and kisses a picture of her son.
“I think about him every day,” she said. “That’s a part of me that was taken that I cannot get back.”
Strickland said Xavier was young, but had an old soul.
“He was a true pioneer in our family,” she said. “All my children are my heart, but that baby right there, he was the most beautiful, loving, caring. If he knew something was wrong with you, he would walk up and give you a hug … And you would be alright.”
Lyons wasn't home at the time. But prosecutors said he should be held responsible because the dogs weren't under control. The evidence included security video of the fatal mauling, which left some jurors in tears.
Lyons was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month. Judge James Callahan sentenced him to five years of probation. The first year will be served in the Wayne County jail under a work release program.
After Lyons apologized, Strickland said she accepted it.
"I'm really sorry," he said. "I've been going through the loss of Xavier. I haven't bounced back since the day it happened. This is something that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life."
Lyons said he didn't raise the dogs to be vicious.
"If I could turn back the hands of time, I would love to help you through your loss," he said.
Lyons was sentenced to 1 year in jail and 5 years probation. He will be able to receive a work release during his probation period.