McKeesport mother pleads guilty in fatal dog attack
The mother of a newborn who was killed by a family dog in McKeesport last year pleaded guilty on Monday to misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children and allowing the canine to attack.
Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski sentenced Brandy Furlong, 22, of McKeesport to six months of house arrest and three years probation for the endangerment charge and two years probation for the dog attack charge.
On Feb. 16, Furlong left her two-day-old son, Howard Nicholson Jr., unattended in a baby carrier on the floor while she was in another room. She heard the child screaming minutes later and ran in to see the child covered in blood with the pet husky, Nikko, hovering over it. The baby died a short time later at Children's Hospital.
Furlong and the boy's father, Howard Nicholson Sr., are living together at another location in McKeesport. The couple no longer has any pets, and Furlong's two children are living with their biological father in Somerset County, according to court testimony.
Defense attorney Nicole Jackson said Furlong hopes to get shared custody and again become part of the lives of her children, 3 and 7.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” said Jackson. “She has suffered a lot since this has happened.”
Furlong, who was accompanied in court by Nicholson, responded to the judge with only yes-and-no answers. Outside the courtroom, she said she was unhappy with the way Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka handled photos showing her bloody infant in the courtroom. People seated in the gallery could see them briefly.
“I'm not really pleased in having to look at the pictures,” Furlong said.
Ditka told Borkowski that it was interesting to note that when issues involving the ownership and fate of the dog blamed for the attack were at stake, the courtroom was filled to capacity. Now, when charges directly related to the death of a baby were at issue, few people were in the courtroom, she said.
Borkowski ordered the dog seized from a new owner by the state dog warden and quarantined until its “eventual possible destruction.” It was sent to a sanctuary for dangerous dogs and former fighting dogs.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New traffic lights to be installed near McKeesport’s Jerome Bridge
- Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
- McKeesport prepares for Relay For Life
- Local residents reminisce about Glassport pool
- Mifflin Road project is on schedule, within budget
- Mon Yough school districts, nonprofits getting by for now with no state budget
- Homestead Cemetery board files for bankruptcy
- Lincoln council OKs chicken coop ordinance
- Elizabeth Township business forum draws a crowd