Dog owner charged with murder after 9-year-old girl mauled to death by 3 pit bulls in Detroit

Emma Hernandez killed Monday in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT – The owner of three pit bulls that mauled a 9-year-old girl to death in a Detroit alley has been charged with murder and is being held on a $2 million bail.

Pierre Cleveland, 33, kept his head down during his Thursday afternoon arraignment. He was formally charged with second-degree murder for Monday's dog attack that killed Emma Hernandez.

Emma Hernandez

He quietly uttered a few words to Emma's family.

"My condolences to the family," Cleveland said.

Cleveland is accused of letting his three pit bulls loose in his backyard before going to the store.

The dogs escaped the yard and viciously attacked Emma, who was riding her bicycle in the area, according to authorities.

"The allegations are that the defendant was harboring dogs that he knew to be vicious, he knew to be aggressive," Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Barbara Lanning said.

Prosecutors said Animal Control officers got a complaint about the same dogs last year.

"The evidence will show that those dogs escaped multiple times, even a week prior to this incident," Lanning said.

Cleveland's attorney, Emmett Greenwood, argued her client didn't intend for any of this to happen and asked for a lower bond.

Emma Hernandez, 9, was killed Aug. 19, 2019 by a pack of dogs in Southwest Detroit. (WDIV)

"We feel that he would be a good candidate for a nominal 10% bond with maybe a GPS tether," Greenwood said.

Instead, the judge ordered a $2 million cash bail.

"I think it's outrageous," Greenwood said.

Cleveland is facing the possibility of many years behind bars.

The Hernandez family is holding a vigil Thursday for Emma at St. Hedwig Park on Detroit's west side.

You can watch the full arraignment below.

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