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December 22, 2014

Riverside man indicted in dog attack that killed child

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Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 5:05 pm | Updated: 4:47 pm, Wed Jun 25, 2014.

A Riverside man was freed on bond Wednesday after turning himself in for charges related to an April dog attack that killed a 5-year-old boy. 

St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said Johnny Ray Kay Sr., 57, of Riverside, turned himself in at the St. Clair County Jail on Tuesday, following his indictment by a St. Clair County grand jury on a charge of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor. Kay was released shortly after his arrest, posting a $5,000 bond.

“Evidence obtained by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department into the death investigation of John Harvard was presented to a grand jury last week,” Minor said Wednesday. “Options as to the various homicide laws of the State of Alabama were given to them and the grand jury returned this indictment.”

The Daily Home does not normally publish the names of individuals charged with misdemeanor crimes, but due to the high profile of the case involving the death of a child, a decision was made to report the name for clarity.

Authorities say Kay owned the pit bull terrier that killed his young neighbor, 5-year-old Harvard.

Minor said if Kay is convicted of criminally negligent homicide, he could face up to 12 months in the St. Clair County Jail and be fined up to $6,000.

Kay is expected to appear in court for his arraignment before St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bill Weathington on Aug. 13.

Kay directed questions to his lawyer, Pell City attorney Billy Church. Efforts to reach Church were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The victim’s father, Jeremy Harvard, declined comment Wednesday, but said last month that he had never seen the dog until after it had attacked his son. He said his children had never played with the animal and that the attack happened shortly after he and his son returned home from a local restaurant.

Harvard said he last remembers seeing his son alive next to the front porch. The child had his bicycle upside down, putting a chain on it.

Harvard said he went into his bedroom to change clothes.

About five minutes later his older son came into to the bedroom yelling, “A dog is on John.”

Harvard said his 9-year-old son tried to kick the dog off his brother, but was unable to do so. Harvard said he grabbed his pistol and ran out of the house.

He yelled at the dog, which momentarily moved away from the boy. Harvard said the dog confronted him and charged. He said he shot at the animal several times before being able to retrieve his son, who was only about 12 to 15 feet away from where he last saw him only moments before.

The boy was rushed to a hospital but died from injuries later that day. The dog was euthanized days later.

The boy’s death sparked urgency among the Riverside City Council to move forward with a proposed leash law. The council is still discussing a proposal to require residents to register and leash or fence in dogs city officials deem dangerous.

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