NORTH CHARLESTON — A special jury decided Friday that the dog mauling death of a 2-year-old Mount Pleasant boy was an accident.
Six jurors were picked for Friday’s coroner’s inquest in Charleston County. They were trying to decide if anyone should be held responsible for the death of Ja’Marr Tiller.
Coroner Rae Wooten acted as the judge for the proceedings. She said there was no question that the boy was killed by dogs on May 27 after he woke up and wandered outside of his home.
What Wooten asked the jury to determine was if anyone should be charged with neglect. Prosecutors aren’t bound by the jury’s recommendation.
An autopsy found the child was killed by dogs and the 193 wounds matched the bites of two dogs captured at the scene May 27. But an animal control officer testified the dogs were timid, had to be trapped in a cage and a vet found no sign of human blood in their hair or teeth. The vet concluded the dogs were not involved.
The child walked outside through an unlocked door and his body was found by his mother, Deandra Tiller, after she ran errands, authorities said.
There were three adults and two children in the home when the boy managed to get out. The volume was turned up loud on several television sets inside, said Deputy Thomas Milz, a crime-scene expert
The boy’s mother didn’t tell anyone she was leaving. She withdrew cash from an ATM, bought gas and spent 30 to 40 minutes at a boat ramp with a married man, investigators said.
Tiller found her son dead in the driveway when she returned.
The dogs belonged to the boy’s great-uncle, Richard Seabrook Sr., who investigators testified was disheveled and had blood stains on his T-shirt when they arrived.
Seabrook said the dogs had never done that before. He helped deputies catch them by putting shrimp into a trap. Authorities said he told them had often fed the animals scraps from the family’s table.