MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — During a preliminary hearing in Martinez Wednesday prosecutor Mary Knox asked a judge to add a charge of second-degree murder against Steven Hayashi, a Concord man whose pack of pit bulls attacked and killed his 2-year-old step-grandson last July.

Hayashi, 53, has pleaded not guilty to charges of child abuse, owning a vicious animal and an enhancement alleging that he allowed his step-grandson, Jacob Bisbee, to be in a situation that resulted in his death.

The attack happened the morning of July 22, 2010, at Hayashi’s home at 1785 Trailcreek Court in Concord, where Jacob, his older brother and their father lived with Hayashi, his wife and their two teenage sons.

Hayashi also had five pit bull mix dogs, which he kept in the backyard and the garage.

Knox argued that Hayashi knew the dogs were aggressive, particularly toward the children, and had not taken adequate steps to protect the children from the dogs.

She argued that he acted with conscious disregard to human life by keeping the dogs in the home and failing to prevent the attack and therefore should be ordered to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder.

Hayashi’s attorney Pamela Lauser, however, argued that there was no evidence that Hayashi was responsible for the children when the attack happened or that he knew that the dogs were vicious.

She objected to Knox’s request to have a murder charge added and asked the judge to dismiss the charges.

On the morning of the attack, Jacob’s father, Michael Bisbee, left at about 5:30 a.m. to go to work.

Hayashi left with his son a couple hours later to go play tennis, leaving Jacob, his 4-year-old brother and Hayashi’s wife asleep upstairs, Hayashi allegedly told Concord police Detective Greg Rodriguez.

Downstairs, three pit bulls were in the garage and two were in the backyard.

Hayashi allegedly told Rodriguez that he usually locked the door from the house to the garage but that he had not locked it that morning, Rodriguez said.

He also admitted that he did not wake up his wife, who worked a late shift and usually slept late, before he left.

Around 8:45 a.m., Jacob went into the garage and was attacked by the three dogs inside. The two dogs in the yard were not part of the attack, police said.

Concord police Officer Jim Nielsen testified that when he arrived at the house that morning, he found Hayashi’s wife giving CPR to a toddler. He said he took over CPR until paramedics arrived, but never saw any sign that Jacob was alive.

Jacob was taken to John Muir Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Contra Costa County coroner’s office found that he died from skull fractures and severe bleeding from multiple dog bites.

Concord police Forensics Specialist Linda Damarco testified that she witnessed animal autopsies, known as necropsies, of the dogs and watched as a piece of Jacob’s shirt and some buttons were removed from the stomach of one dog and hair, believed to be from Jacob’s head, was removed from the stomach of another dog.

In a jailhouse interview the day after the attack, Hayashi admitted that he knew one of his dogs, “Kiwi,” was aggressive and said that the dogs had killed a pet Chihuahua about a year earlier.

Knox, however, said that the dogs had also killed an Akita—a large dog that can weigh 70 to 100 pounds—and a pet parrot, and had showed previous signs of aggression toward Jacob and his brother.

Hayashi has said the dogs were supposed to be family pets and were not bred for fighting.

Contra Costa Animal Services Lt. Joseph DeCosta, however, said that when he arrived at the house shortly after the attack on Jacob the dogs appeared to be acting as a pack and were in a state of frenzy as they tried to attack his fellow animal control officers.

The three dogs in the garage were throwing themselves against the door, DeCosta said.

“They were physically trying to chew through the door to get to the officers,” he said.

The two dogs in the backyard were throwing themselves up against a sliding glass door that led into the living room, he said.

“I believed the dogs to be in a state of frenzy,” DeCosta said.

Concord police Cpl. Joseph Higby testified that there was a lock and a deadbolt on the door from the house to the garage, but no child safety mechanisms were in place. The doorknob was only 3 feet from the ground with the dead bolt about 6 inches above that.

Rodriguez testified that he interviewed Hayashi at the hospital and then again at the police station.

During his initial interview at the hospital, Hayashi allegedly told Rodriguez his wife had asked him to get rid of the dogs because it was dangerous to have them around young children.

“I know the animals have aggressive tendencies toward people and other animals,” Rodriguez said Hayashi told him.

Hayashi allegedly told Rodriguez that Kiwi was particularly aggressive and was not allowed around the children.

Rodriguez said Hayashi told him that in the week before the attack, Jacob had become interested in the dogs and would stare at them through the sliding glass door in the living room. When Kiwi saw him, he would allegedly bark at him aggressively and charge the door.

During another incident, Hayashi said he was holding Jacob and Kiwi jumped up and nipped Jacob, Rodriguez said.

Hayashi allegedly admitted to Rodriguez that he knew the dogs were aggressive and that was why he tried to keep them away from the children.

Hayashi’s wife, Leticia Hayashi, who testified for the defense, claimed that Jacob’s father left the house at 5:30 a.m. every day without discussing childcare arrangements with anyone.

She said she worked a late shift at work, so her husband would usually take care of Jacob and his brother in the mornings when their father “abandoned them.”

She said she had asked her husband to get rid of the dogs because she was tired of cleaning up after them, not because they were vicious.

“They bark, but they’re not vicious,” Leticia Hayashi said.

She claimed she had never seen the dogs behave aggressively toward anyone in the home.

She denied telling a police officer at the hospital that she knew something like this would happen and that it was only a matter of time.

She denied telling the officer that Jacob and his brother could reach the locks on the garage door and that she had asked her husband to put the locks higher up so they would not be able to reach them.

She claimed that Bisbee moved into their house without permission and would often leave children in the house without telling anyone.

Lauser also called Bisbee to testify, but he did not show up.

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to allow a judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Clare Maier is expected to make her ruling Thursday morning.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (17)
  1. Lori Portales, MSW says:

    First of all why 5 big dogs? Why leave 3 of them in the hot garage in July? Why was the dead bolt unlocked? Why did he not wake up the grandmother when he left? I’m sorry but these questions clearly show this was an act of child endangerment. All the signs were present and were ignored. Family pets yeah right. Who in their right mind houses 5 pit bulls in a home with children? I say there is more to this story.

    1. Man up father says:

      Wait a minute…What about the father;’s responsibilty? Who leaves the house every morning without making arrangements for their children??It sounds to me like another adult child with entitlement issues. Couldn’t the father of these children see the dogs were aggressive to his children? Or didn’t he pay that close attention? I know that would be the first thing I honed in on no matter who owned the dogs. Why is the grandfather being held responsible for his son’s children? If the house was owned by strangers who ran a day care, the father would be expected to discern the difference between a safe day care and a not so safe daycare. There are obvious hazards in the home for these children, no matter who owns the home. The father is responsible for not leaving his children in a hazardous situation. I don’t believe the grandfather lied about the friendliness of his dogs. It is not as if he told the son” oh don’t worry the dogs are friendly. Your kids will be safe”.

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  2. Angry and Sad says:

    Who in the h***, in their right mind, owns 5 pit bulls? Especially around small children! DOGS ARE PACK ANIMALS. When one attacks, all will attack and their jaws are deadly. When they bite their jaws lock. The father didn’t “abandon” the children, he went to work. I can’t imagine the terror that poor child must have felt. The one dog was obviously viscious as he had bitten or killed other animals. That step-grandfather is out of his mind.

    Also what’s with the over use of the word allegedly lately?

    1. Ishmaile says:

      Yes, definitely, if ANY dog is aggressive, no matter how much you love them, they should be put down. Pit Bulls jaws don’t lock. I don’t know what idiot came up with that. A Doberman has a much harder bite. Not all Pit Bulls are bad. But there are a lot of people that make Pit Bulls bad. There are many other types of dogs that are just as bad, just like some people are bad. But isn’t it ironic that we don’t put down really, really bad people. We just keep them on death row forever. So what is their motivation to change? Yes, yes,,,people aren’t dogs, just BAD SEEDS, and bad seeds don’t grow and they don’t change! God will protect the little boy now. Yep, I think there is more to these two stories. I would be angry if someone locked me in the garage on these hot days. A pack of aggressive dogs is not a good thing.

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  3. Pitbull owner says:

    I agree with you on most of what you said, but you have some misinformation.
    Pitbulls are not able to lock their jaws. They have very strong jaw muscles, that when they bit is appears that they have locked their jaws.
    I have 4 pitbulls, & they are all friendly dog. This guy should have learned about the breed, & should have removed any dog with aggressive behavior from his home.
    Any dog can be bad around children. Also did you know that Golden retrievers have more facial bites on children that any other dog? I bring this up to make a point, it’s not the breed, it’s the owner & breeders that need to accountable.

  4. Diane Matcheck says:

    Golden retrievers might be responsible for more facial bites on children than other dog breeds, but they don’t KILL children. Pit Bulls clearly ARE more dangerous than other breeds because when they attack someone, they have the strength to easily kill, and they seem to be much more likely to TRY to kill.

    If it’s true that these dogs killed a chihuahua, an Akita, and a parrot, they should have been put down long before they had the opportunity to kill this child. Clearly this guy should be charged accordingly. But I don’t see why the mother isn’t being charged, as well. She is equally culpable.

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  5. mike says:

    pitbull owner – you are no different than the loser on trial….the question is when is one of your 4 pitbulls going to atack someone. i don’t know why pitbull owners think their dogs are friendly….maybe to you, but you feed them and dongs don’t bite the hand that feeds

    i think in 99% of the cases, pit bull owners have mental issues and user their pitbull to compensate…..bad ass dog means i’ma bad ass tooo…BS

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  6. Miss Dee says:

    While I agree that the grandfather 1) used excessively poor judgment in allowing five dogs (regardless of breed) that had a history of aggression to live in a home with small children, 2) failed to lock the door to the garage, and 3) failed to provide adequate supervision for his grandchildren when he left the home and didn’t wake his wife — I don’t feel he should be charged with murder. This was a horrible tragedy – a sequence of events that led to the accidental death of a 2 year old child. Child endangerment, yes. Murder? The poor man is incredibly remorseful and while he is guilty of poor judgment, I don’t think a murder charge is warranted here. This family needs to grieve and be able to move forward. This man will never forgive himself for this mistake.

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