The owner of the killer canines that mauled a South Carolina mother of three had been reported to authorities three months before the gruesome attack in connection with another dog-biting incident on his property that left that victim hospitalized.
Justin Minor, 36, was in the Abbeville County courthouse Thursday for the March 21 attack by his pit bulls on 38-year-old Kyleen Waltman, who is fighting for her life after needing to have both her arms and legs amputated following the devastating incident.
He faces three counts of owning dangerous animals that attacked and injured a human, rabies violation and allowing dangerous animals off his property unrestrained.
In court, Abbeville County investigator Jeffery Hines revealed that there was another dog attack on Minor’s property that took place around Christmas Eve.
The victim, identified as Roy Ashley, was hospitalized in a VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, from a bite he sustained from an incident at Minor’s home, located on Ball Road in Honea Path, Hines said.
Hines said local animal control was notified of the incident, but at the time no dogs were turned over. He suggested, local law enforcement beyond animal control was not notified.
According to Hines, animal control conducted an investigation and said they spoke to two people in the yard of the home, and the two people who spoke said they did not own large dogs, only small dogs, according to their report, The Daily Beast reported.
During Thursday’s preliminary hearing, Minor sat with his attorney, Charles Grose, during the 30-minute hearing. He remained inexpressive with his hands folded, partially covering his mouth, and family members sat nearby.
Minor’s attorney asked that the case against him to be dismissed, but judge Magistrate Carolyn Brownlee sent the case to a grand jury for indictment, Fox Carolina reported.
Last month, he was released on a $15,000 bond, and may still face a penalty of $5,000 or a sentence of three years in prison.Also in the courtroom were Waltman’s mother and her sister, Amy Wynne, who made no statements. Some officers with the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office were also in attendance.
Since the near-fatal attack, Waltman has received a thoracostomy to remove fluid from her lungs; had amputations of her arms; had shoulder bones removed, and had her colon removed; and been through skin graft operations.
Waltman had been walking from her boyfriend’s home to her mother’s house along Ball Road in Honea Path, a rural area about 80 miles northwest of Columbia, when the near-fatal attack occurred.
Tanya Gilmer, Waltman’s best friend, told WGN Radio: ‘As far as I know, the dogs just jumped on her and you can actually see in the road if you go down there, where she fought the dog, trying to fight them off,’ Gilmer said. Local farmer and good Samaritan Avery Presley, had been driving his tractor when he saw Waltman in a ditch getting viciously attacked by the pack of dogs. He fired his gun into that prompted the dogs to flee, police said.
Gilmer told the radio station: ‘The dogs ‘pretty much ripped all the meat from [Waltman’s] arms,’ and that the woman now has ‘a hole in the back of her head.’
During the testimony, Hines said he was not certain that the animals involved in the December incident were the same ones that were euthanized after the attack on Waltman last month.
Hines said Minor learned of the attack when deputies contacted him at work. When he arrived at the scene, he told deputies that they could take the dogs and put them down, WFFY reported.
Animal control officers said previously they took a total of 11 dogs from Minor’s property.
According to Hines, Minor told deputies he wanted to put the dogs down after they killed his chickens, but his wife was against it. Minor told deputies that his wife thought they could be trained.
At the hearing, Hines said a neighbor told deputies that Minor said, ‘those dogs will bite anyone.’
One of Minor’s neighbors told investigators that he was afraid to go outside when the dogs were out, and that he would carry a stick to for safety.
‘Once a dog tastes blood, that’s it,’ Hines recounted Minor telling deputies on scene.
He also said the none of the dogs that were running loose around the suspects property had been vaccinated for rabies.Hines, who went to visit Waltman in the ICU a few days after the attack described it is ‘one of the more gruesome animal attacks I’ve ever seen in my career.’
He added: ‘She had bites from her top of her head to the bottom of her feet, including her whole entire body,’ he said.
The dogs were later seized by Abbeville County Animal Control, and the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office and were euthanized and sent away for testing.
Waltman has since undergone more than 10 surgeries. Waltman’s sister, Amy Wynne started a GoFundMe to help raise money for her sister’s medical care, and to provide regular updates on her sister’s condition.
On Wednesday, Amy Wynne, Waltman’s sister wrote: ‘Kyleen went through surgery good. Her left leg is giving not only her but the doctors a fit. The infection in it is the same infection that she has had throughout her whole body, but for some reason the infection in her leg they can’t stop from spreading. So they are going to leave the pump on it for a little while longer.’
She added: ‘Ok, we thought her right shoulder was going to be good and they were able to fit it with a prosthetic, well yesterday they found an infection in the bone and had to remove more of the bone. So now she will not be able to have regular prosthetics on either shoulder. The doctors have told Kyleen once again about her arms and about most of the damage the dogs had done. She is now fully aware of the situation. She still has a long way to go.’
A GoFundMe has raised nearly $230,000 with nearly 5K donations nearing their goal of $300,000.
Wynne added: ‘She has survived this for a reason. So through prayers and Jesus Christ she will prevail. Kyleen has came a long way from where she was a month ago, till now.. And our family is very thankful for all of you for everything that you all have done to help not only Kyleen through this but, also her family. We will never be able to repay you all back for everything.’