Owner of Pit Bulls That Killed 9-Year-Old Detroit Girl Is Charged With Murder

Pierre Cleveland, 33, was charged with second-degree murder and his bond was set at $2 million

Emma Hernandez
Photo: Facebook

The owner of three pit bulls who fatally mauled a 9-year-old Detroit girl on Monday has been charged with murder, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

On Thursday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced that 33-year-old Pierre Cleveland will face charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a dangerous animal causing death. His cash bond was set at $2 million, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Attorney Emmett Greenwood pleaded not guilty on behalf of Cleveland, who kept his head lowered and spoke once to say, “My condolences to the family,” the Detroit News reports.


Cleveland’s dogs attacked 9-year-old Emma Hernandez on Monday around 4 p.m. as she was riding her bike in the alley behind his house.

At Thursday’s arraignment, prosecutors said Cleveland knew the dogs were aggressive and didn’t take action to appropriately contain them. “He knew the backyard was not secure,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Barbara Lanning stated.

“The allegations are that the defendant was harboring dogs he knew to be dangerous, he knew to be aggressive,” Lanning said. “Those dogs escaped multiple times, even a week prior to this incident.”

She also said the dogs had killed one or more puppies inside Cleveland’s home before the attack on Emma.

After his arraignment, Cleveland’s attorney said the $2 million cash bond was “outrageous,” the Detroit Free Press reports, but Greenwood did not comment further except to say that the suspect’s family is “praying for that precious child.”

The dogs are currently with Detroit Animal Care and Control and will most likely be euthanized, according to WXYZ.

Cleveland is due to appear in court again on Aug. 30 for a probable cause conference and again on Sept. 6 for a preliminary examination.

The Free Press reports that Emma’s family will host a vigil, as well as a viewing and a funeral, for the little girl this weekend.

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