A Lithonia woman convicted after her dogs attacked an 8-year-old girl in 2010 wants to get out of jail after four months.
An attorney for Twyann Vaughn said her client wants to be released because of “some things that have come up in her life.”
Vaughn’s son will be graduating from high school this month “without her there to support him,” said public defender Jamila Montaque, during a hearing in state court May 9.
Vaughn is also being sued for $15 million by the victim’s family, Montaque said.
“She wouldn’t be able to pay that even if she were working,” Montaque said. “She wants to do the right thing. She understands that she will probably have to pay [the victim] something. She simply can’t do that while in custody.”
State Court Judge Dax Lopez is considering the request.
Vaughn was sentenced to 16 months in jail, three years of probation, 240 hours of community service and restitution. She has also been ordered to become an advocate for better animal control after release.
Vaughn was convicted on two counts each of reckless conduct, violation of the vicious dog act and violation of the rabies ordinance.
Witnesses during her trial said that Vaughn’s pit bulls attacked Erin Ingram, a Rock Chapel Elementary School pupil, who was playing in her neighborhood March 2010. The girl lost part of an arm as a result of the attack.
According to a police report, several witnesses unsuccessfully tried to pull the dogs away from the girl before a DeKalb County Police officer arrived. The officer shot one of the dogs in the head when it jumped toward the officer. The other dog, which ran away, was later found and euthanized.
“This wasn’t done on purpose,” Montaque said. “This was a horrible accident. It was negligent. It wasn’t on purpose.”
During the four-day trial, DeKalb Solicitor General Sherry Boston portrayed Vaughn as a negligent dog owner.
Vaughn’s neighbors testified that the dogs were allowed to run freely through the neighborhood. Several witnesses testified that they would not go outside without a shovel, hoe, baseball bat or a 9 mm gun.
Boston said Vaughn’s sentence was “fair and lenient.”
It was “more than fair given the circumstances that [the victim] will have to face for the rest of her life,” Boston said. “After serving four months, she certainly should not be released from jail.”
Boston highlighted the fact that Vaughn’s motion was filed less than 30 days into her sentence.
“Ms. Vaughn was not feeling remorseful at this point,” Boston said. “She still is concerned about civil liabilities…claiming that she had done nothing wrong.”
Boston said Vaughn had “ample opportunity” before the trial to prepare for the pending lawsuit.
“To go to jail and then claim after the fact that she needs to get out so she can raise money or have a lawyer to defend the civil claim is preposterous,” Boston said.
“I am offended for the Ingram family…because this family has to deal with a great amount of tragedy and Erin Ingram, for the rest of her life, will be disabled,” Boston said.
The victim’s father, Tommie Ingram, said Vaughn should serve her full sentence.
“She got off real light from the beginning,” Ingram said. “I actually wanted her to have more time than just 16 months, so I want her to serve more than four.”