Charged with felony manslaughter
TUCUMCARI, New Mexico––Charged with felony possession of a dangerous dog and involuntary manslaughter, also a felony, for the February 1, 2023 pit bull pack death of computer programmer Stanley Hartt, Kristopher Morris, 27, in a KQRE television interview blamed his mama.
Morris’ mama, Mary Montoya, 50, earlier blamed Morris.
Photos and video aired by KQRE and posted to Morris/Montoya family social media pages meanwhile established that the killer pack were not “all mixed breeds” as the first Quay County Sheriff’s Office bulletins alleged after Hartt was killed.
Nor were any of the five dogs “part German shepherd” or “tan German shepherd,” as Quay County Sheriff’s Office updates suggested, or “pit bull-boxer-lab mixes,” as the Quay County Sheriff’s Office said later.
All five dogs were pit bulls
None of the dogs of whom visual images were available––four and perhaps all five––had any markings, coloration, or other features unique to German shepherds, boxers, or Labrador retrievers.
All had features common to pit bulls. The only hint of resemblance to German shepherds and Labrador retrievers was that one appeared to have blond coloration in certain light.
This is exactly as ANIMALS 24-7 suspected in our February 5, 2023 report If pit bulls are not “devil dogs,” why not speak their names?, noting that police, animal control agencies, and media have become conspicuously more reluctant in recent years to identify a pit bull as a pit bull, essentially for political reasons.
Social media postings by Montoya appear to have recognized the dogs as pit bulls, four of them coming from a litter produced by two other pit bulls, a male named Blu who was apparently killed by a truck while running at large in late December 2022, and a female named Xena [also spelled Zina in some reports], shot dead by police at the scene where Hartt was ripped apart by the pack.
The Google Lens online photo identification tool, for what it is worth, possibly not much, suggested four of the killer dogs might be “Rhodesian ridgeback, Staffordshire bull terrier, black mouth cur, American Staffordshire, or pit bull.”
Three of the five breeds that Google Lens listed are in fact pit bulls and pit bulls are among the lineage of the other two.
However, the Google Lens identifications may be considered as suspect as those by the Quay County Sheriff’s Office, since Google Lens repeatedly identified one photo of the all-black fifth dog as a polar bear.
Google Lens did, however, recognize a second photo of the same dog as a pit bull.
Montoya “failed to report that her dogs were loose”
If Tucumcari did not happen to be in the New Mexico desert, near the Texas border, and if witnesses did not see the pit bulls attacking Hartt, 64, the condition of Hartt’s remains might have suggested he ran afoul of a polar bear, or a bear of some sort.
Hartt was found with ‘numerous bite marks’ and large portions of his legs appeared ‘to have been eaten away by animals,’” summarized Chris McKee of KQRE.
“Investigators say Montoya cared for the five dogs, which she claims her son owned,” McKee reported on February 9, 2023.
“Investigators allege that Montoya has continually allowed animals to freely roam Tucumcari,” McKee continued. “They also allege she failed to report that her dogs were loose and knew the dogs were gone the night Hartt was mauled to death.
“She takes care of them because he does not”
“According to newly filed arrest warrant affidavits,” McKee said, “investigators found the dog pack shortly after the attack and noticed one of the dogs had blood on its snout.”
That was Xena, shot nearby. The first responding officers also shot at a second dog, who escapted.
“At a nearby home,” McKee continued, “other officers spotted another dog they recognized from the pack that killed Hartt.
“At that home, officers met Mary Montoya, who admitted to caring for five dogs. Officers say one of the dogs in the home had blood on its face and that Montoya had photographs of the dog who was killed. Montoya told officers the dogs belonged to her son, but ‘she takes care of them because he does not.’”
Montoya acknowledged, McKee said, that the pit bull who was killed, Xena, “had previously bitten two other people on separate occasions.
“Investigators say,” McKee added, that “Montoya spoke of putting the dogs in the back yard after work amid a yard with ‘a fence in severe disrepair.’
“In subsequent interviews with investigators,” McKee finished, “Montoya’s son Kristopher Morris admitted the dogs have ‘a history of repeated escapes’ and ‘attacking’ local residents.”
The four surviving pit bulls were impounded and remain in custody of the Tucumcari Animal Control.
Kristopher Morris hummed a different tune in a February 14, 2023 interview with Karla Sosa of KQRE.
Kristopher Morris, despite his pit bulls’ past history of escaping and injuring people, “says he can’t believe what happened and says Mary Montoya is to blame,” Sosa began.
“Morris said his mom, Mary Montoya, was aware the dogs would run loose around town,” Sosa narrated.
“Morris got Xena in 2020 and gave her to his mom who had a back yard until he found a home that allowed big dogs. He says he was training her to be a therapy dog and never saw any type of aggression out of Xena.”
“Would have had them put down”
Claimed Morris, “If I would have seen any sign of aggression on any of the animals, I would have had them put down to prevent anything like this from happening,” said Morris.
Sosa did not ask Morris what he called his pit bulls’ previous bite history, if not “aggression.”
ANIMALS 24-7 wonders if Morris imagines that the pit bulls practiced “therapy” by licking Hartt to death.
Said Sosa, “Morris doesn’t know how many times the dogs had escaped from his mom’s home in the past. He says he did his part to make sure the dogs wouldn’t escape.
“I always put cement blocks or logs. I always put them right where the holes were to prevent them from escaping,” insisted Morris, seemingly oblivious to the reality that pit bulls can again move cement blocks or logs they have already moved aside to escape once.
Antwon Demetris Burks
Finished Sosa, “Morris and Montoya are expected to be back in court on March 16, 2023. They are not allowed to have any dogs or [other] animals.”
Morris and Montoya may hope their case comes to the same end as the Oklahoma City prosecution of Antwon Demetris Burks, whose $8,000 pair of pit bulls likewise repeatedly escaped through an allegedly poorly repaired fence to run amok, until on April 6, 2017 they reportedly all but beheaded Cecille Short, 82.
Burks, 36 when acquitted, was on November 5, 2021 found not guilty of second degree manslaughter.
(See Pit bulls running amok to kill is not “manslaughter,” says Oklahoma City jury.)
Tucumcari, where Hartt was killed, is where “wild cow milking” originated.
“Wild cow milking, a rodeo event bearing no relationship to anything ever actually done on ranches, was recently banned in Alameda County, California.
(See Rodeo “wild cow milking”: living legacy of rich alleged child molester.)
Jamaka Petzak says
Well, as with so much else in our society, this is another instance of going to hell in a handbasket and I guess a lot of people have just given up. There is so much corruption and violence where there should be protection and service; personal responsibility and (very UN) common sense seem to have been forgotten and/or abdicated by most. What to do?
Sharing with gratitude, frustration and sorrow for all of the lives lost, living beings maimed for life, families broken, people grieving, and the complete unwillingness of every person defending, owning, and advocating for dangerous dogs to STOP.
Canine DNA testing to determine breed should be included in the forensics in these cases. Law enforcement should not carelessly decide the, “breed,” on a whim or by their own preferences. They would not say it is, “a gun,” without determining make and caliber.
Having a pack of friendly poodles accidentally running loose would not be the same level of decision making as having a pack of pit bulls, one with a bite history, running loose; the breed matters.
Denying/altering the breed is politicizing forensics. It amounts to fraud.
People’s judgements are routinely weighed into criminal cases. For example, if a baby is left with a 16 year old babysitter it is treated differently than if a baby who is harmed was left with its five year old sibling. The judgement of those ultimately responsible is part of decisions that are made regarding culpability or prosecution.
These owners made certain decisions, even out of carelessness, to risk other people’s lives. Period. It should be investigated and prosecuted as the felony it is.
Merritt Clifton says
Unfortunately, DNA testing is notoriously unreliable as a means of identifying pit bulls. Mars Inc., the leading maker of canine genetic test kits, even publishes a warning on their kits themselves that such tests cannot be used to identify a pit bull, with an explanation which could also be applied to why they cannot identify a “hound,” as opposed to a narrowly defined lineage such as foxhound.
Inabiiity to identify a “hound” by DNA testing scarcely means that “hounds” don’t exist, only that “hound,” like pit bull, is a broad category derived from breeding to function, not a narrow standard derived from breeding to show standards.
Just as “hound” is defined by extraordinary ability to track and pursue prey, “pit bull” is defined by a build, temperament, & degree of reactivity inclining the dog to fight aggressively, to the death if need be, with any other living being (or even, in one memorable Denver case, with a concrete pig.)
Pit bulls are bred to function, i.e. to have the physical and psychological attributes needed for fighting and baiting, not to form, i.e. a “breed standard.”
A pit bull, in short, of a hound, is a member of a class, as are “retrievers,” “sight hounds,” “scent hounds,” “herding dogs,” etc., and may be any “breed” or mix of “breeds” within that class, along with, in the case of pit bulls, out-crosses meant to enhance the attributes of a fighting dog.
Therefore DNA testing and visual “breed standards” based on niceties of appearance are not appropriate to identify pit bulls; but courts in both the U.S. and Canada have repeatedly ruled that pit bulls are clearly, accurately, and easily visually identified by their recognizable adaptations for fighting.
What we’re talking about here: “breed” is like brand, e.g. a Ford or a Chevrolet. “Pit bull,” “gun dog,” “sight hound,” “scent hound,” “retriever,” “herding dog,” etc. are definitions of working characteristics, like “pickup truck,” “mini-van,” etc.
DNA identifies brand. But pit bull is a function, an entirely different matter.