For the first time, the man charged with a felony in connection with a Pitbull attack is speaking out. Nekko Lazo, 19, has been charged with Attack by Dog. He is out on bond. The whole situation came as a shock to the teen. "I didn't even know that I could go to jail for something like this, something that was out of my control. Its not like I told them to attack the guy... Its not my fault," he said.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Detectives say Lazo "failed to properly secure two pit bulls (sic) he had care, custody and control of on 12-14-2010. Both dogs appeared to have made an unprovoked attack on the victim in from of the 2506 10th street address. These dogs caused serious bodily injury and dismemberment of the victim's right ear and left eye."
Melvin Lewis was taken to Parkland Hospital in Dallas where he underwent 14 hours of surgery and spent days in the ICU. Just days before Christmas, Newschannel 6 sat down with Lewis' family. They told of the emotional strain going through the ordeal - that close to the holiday. The family also spoke out to city leaders about the issue. They felt more should be done about the matter.
Melvin's father, Roosevelt Gildon, took the news of the arrest with hesitation. "What went through my mind when they said they have made an arrest was I felt somewhat relieved that they were doing something about it but when I found out that they just arrested a young kid - a 19 year old - that didn't own the house and was renting with somebody else it kind of disturbed me," he said.
The charge is under Section 822.005 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. A Prosecutor with the District Attorney's Office could not recall the charge having ever appeared in Texoma courts. A spokesperson with the Texas Attorney General's Office says there is not a statewide database that keeps track of charges like this one. Another legal expert, Wichita Falls Attorney Ronnie Molina, could not recall a time this statute was prosecuted. "In this situation there is a charge dealing with a statute that specifically speaks to criminal negligence and a dangerous animal," explained Molina. He is worried for Lazo. "I think its very unfortunate and scarring. This young man, should the Grand Jury indict him, is actually looking at time over the conduct that he may or may not have had any control over," said Molina.
Molina feels Lazo will probably be indicted by the Grand Jury, but that the DA's Office will have trouble proving the case in court. "In the statue there are two elements, criminal negligence and dangerous dog. So the true question that should be answered in the Probable Cause Affidavit is: Did the gentleman act negligently as defined by the Penal Code? Second: Did he have knowledge that his dogs were dangerous? According to the Probable Cause Affidavit I have reviewed, the answer would be no," Molina said.
The Lazo Family hopes for a positive outcome. The whole situation has left them in a daze. "Its almost unreal or surreal. It really hasn't hit me," said Nekko Lazo's father, Armando Lazo. The family plans to fight the charges they view as unfair. "They're trying to make examples, and I'm not going to have it; I'm not just going to lie there and take it you know I'm going to stand up and do what I got to, too," said Armando Lazo.
The elder Lazo says the dogs, "Ace" and "MJ" are friendly and gentle giants. "He's friendly, he'll come up to you, he'll let you pet him. He's huge, and that's why people are frightened but he's not a vicious dog," he said of Ace.
He recounts being given Ace several years ago after his previous owners – who Lazo says adopted him as a rescue – had a baby. "He is more than just a Pitbull, He's my friend. He's our friend; he's the most adorable. He looks vicious but he isn't, unless you come messing with... you know... he's just protecting what's his," he said.
According to the Affidavit and accounts of the attack relayed through Melvin Lewis' family, Lewis was walking down the street when he saw the dogs on the porch of the house. The smaller dog, MJ, attacked his leg and the bigger dog, Ace, latched-on to his head. Nekko Lazo feels there may have been more to it. "I think they may have been trying to break-in," he said.
Nekko Lazo and his roommate says they had been dealing with home and vehicle break-in's at the house in the weeks prior to the attack. The home has a large, wooden fence around the back yard. In the Affidavit, Nekko Lazo tells Detective Marc Montana that a gate – which witnesses told investigators was standing open on the night of the attack – had been secured with a pad lock. Lazo says the lock was broken-off a few weeks prior. At the heart of the 3rd Degree Felony charge is what the affidavit says next. "Nekko Lazo said… No other attempt to secure the fence door was made with the exception of a 30 lb. concrete block sitting on the ground at the base of both door and a standard gate closure fixture. I (Montana) checked the "block" and this block was wood, not concrete. This block could have been easily moved with minimal effort."
Lewis' and Lazo's fathers are each deeply upset about the attack. "I really couldn't say what I would say to the man, but I've said once before that he should have had his dog tied up or chained up or in a gate, couldn't get out cause he knew what kind of dogs they were," said Gildon "You know I apologize... I'm sorry that this happened the way it did ... but that's not Ace. He doesn't do stuff like that. He doesn't get angry for no reason… I mean it was a brutal attack, don't get me wrong… I'm sorry that it happened, but it wasn't my fault and that's the bottom line. It wasn't (Ace's) fault because he just doesn't go out attacking people for no reason… It was just a freak accident, just one of those things that happens now and again," said the elder Lazo. Nekko, too, expressed his remorse and sympathy for Lewis."I would tell him I'm sorry that it was out of my control if I could take it back, I would. It's not like I intentionally wanted it to happen," he said.
Since the attack, Nekko Lazo and his roommate say they have been threatened by people they feel are connected to Lewis. Nekko says just this week a woman came through the yard with a baseball bat. He feels she was there to threaten them. According to Gildon, Lewis is staying in Oklahoma City and traveling to Dallas several times a week for care.
In the wake of the charge, Nekko was terminated from his job. He is currently seeking a defense attorney to represent him in the case. Right now, he awaits a Grand Jury's decision to learn if he will face trial for the count.