The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office is recommending that the district attorney charge Alexandria Griffin-Heady in connection with the death earlier this month of her younger brother, who was killed by her pit bull terriers while she was away at work.
Nine-year-old Tyler Trammell-Huston was mauled to death Jan. 3 in the dilapidated trailer in Linda where Griffin-Heady was living while pursuing custody of the boy and trying to reunite her fractured family. Their mother was an addict who died homeless on the Sacramento streets in 2011 and left five children.
Tyler, the youngest, was living with a foster family at the time of his death. Sacramento County Child Protective Services had approved regular visits with Griffin-Heady, 24.
Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read said in a statement issued late Tuesday that his office forwarded the results of its investigation to District Attorney Patrick McGrath and is “requesting that a complaint be filed against Griffin-Heady charging her with felony child endangerment.”
Griffin-Heady has not been arrested in the case. McGrath told The Sacramento Bee last week that his review “will take some time, and there may be a need for further investigation,” before a decision is to made as to whether to file charges.
Any charges would hinge on whether Griffin-Heady knew the dogs could be dangerous, according to legal experts.
In California, the crime of child endangerment occurs when someone “causes or permits a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering,” or “willfully” causes or allows a child in his or her care to be injured or placed in a dangerous situation. A conviction of felony child endangerment can lead to a sentence of as long as six years in state prison.
Griffin-Heady has said that she never thought her three dogs were capable of violence, and that Tyler had played with them many times without incident. The animals were put to death last week with her permission.
The case has sparked a spirited debate about who is responsible for Tyler’s death, and whether pit bulls are inherently dangerous.
Tyler’s father, John Huston, who is mentally disabled and said he is incapable of caring for his son, is pursuing a lawsuit against CPS. Huston, who saw his son regularly, alleges that CPS “knew or should have known” that Tyler was at risk of great harm with his older sister and her dogs.
On her Facebook page, Griffin-Heady recently posted a collage of pictures of her and Tyler. She wrote that she would “never forgive myself” for what happened.
“I miss you so much,” she wrote. “I am so sorry, baby.”