Fatal Dog Mauling Case Turned Over to Jury

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NEWTON, Iowa -- The case of a Prairie City woman charged in a dog mauling attack has been turned over to the jury.

The state began Wednesday by calling a rebuttal witness to the stand who testified she was bit by the dog, Brutis, but was scared to come forward until now because of her relationship with Wright.

The witness, Kristy Cockerham, shared how she was specifically bitten by the Wright's dog.

"Brutis came up to me I was petting him on his head and he put his mouth around my wrist, I tried to pull my wrist out and he bit down harder, I tried again and he bit down harder so I asked for them to get the dog off of me," Cockerham said.

The defense claims Brutis wasn't biting but playing, and called Wright's husband Wes back to the stand to testify.

"I don't remember there being blood, I remember she said it hurt but he's done that before to me, my friends, Jena's friends, it's actually called mouthing, it was a puppy phase he went through," Wes said.

The state countered by saying Wright knew Brutis had a violent history when she knowingly put 4-year-old Jordyn Arndt in the backyard with him. Arndt died from her injuries the day after police say she was attacked by Brutis.

Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Bennett said the evidence speaks for itself. He told the jury it wasn't an accident what happened to Arndt but it was a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented.

"The defendant knew this dog, the defendant knew what this dog had done, the defendant knew what this dog was capable of, the defendant knew the substantial risks of exposing this dog unsupervised to a 4-year-old little girl who could not defend herself," Bennett said.

However, the defense claims Wright had no knowledge of Brutis' past and had no reason to think he would hurt another person. Wright's attorney, T.J. Hier said Wright had no reason to think Brutis would be a threat when she let Arndt play in the backyard with him.

"She didn't have any information because I can tell you she certainly would not have let that little girl that she loved go out there if she thought this was going to happen," Hier said. "This is a horrible tragedy, I say beyond tragic, but I'm also going to use the words tragic accident."

The jury was handed the case at 2 p.m, and now has the task to decide whether or not Wright knew her dog Brutis had a violent history when she left Arndt alone with him in the backyard.

There are several degrees and options the jury can decide on but Wright could face up to 35 years in prison.

Wright is charged with child endangerment, neglect of a dependent person, and a few additional minor charges.

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