Emotions bubbled to the surface in court Wednesday after the prosecution rested in the trial of Maureen Faibish, accused of felony child endangerment in the dog-mauling death of her son Nicholas Faibish.
Maureen Faibish’s husband, Steven Faibish, took the stand for the second day in a row, this time as a witness for the defense. When asked to describe Nicholas, he wept visibly while Maureen Faibish dabbed her eyes at the defendant’s table.
Maureen Faibish had to leave the courtroom Tuesday afternoon when she became overcome with emotion at hearing an assistant medical examiner’s report that her son’s nose had been ripped off in the melee.
On June 3, 2005, the Faibish family’s two pit bulls mauled their eldest son, 12-year-old Nicholas, to death. Nicholas was home alone with the two dogs, Rex and Ella, having declined to attend his sister Ashley’s school picnic with their mother.
Steven Faibish had relocated to Oregon about six weeks prior to begin a new job, and the family was to join him in a few days.
Nicholas apparently wanted to stay downstairs in the garage playing video games, and Maureen Faibish told him to avoid the dogs upstairs by propping the unlatchable garage door closed with a shovel. Ella was in heat, and Rex had reportedly became agitated when trying to mate with her.
The prosecution rested ahead of schedule Wednesday after hearing testimony from two special education experts who had worked with Nicholas at Jefferson Elementary School and Roosevelt Middle School, where he attended sixth grade. Roosevelt Special Education Director Karen Anzaldo testified that Nicholas had trouble following instructions and needed “constant prompting” to complete tasks.
Defense lawyer Lidia Stiglich began building the case Wednesday that Maureen had no reason to think the dogs would hurt Nicholas. She recalled Steven Faibish to the stand and asked him to describe the relationship between the dogs and the family’s three children.
“[The dogs] were an extension of the family,” Steven Faibish said. “They were not the things that kill you when you walk in the door.”
Stiglich showed photographs of
Nicholas, his brother, Chris, and their sister, Ashley, with the dogs. One photograph showed Ashley in bed, sandwiched between the two dogs, apparently sleeping.
On Tuesday, Steven Faibish testified that he had owned dogs “all my life,” but said none of his dogs had ever bitten a person in anger. He recounted an incident 18 years ago when he sicced a pit bull he owned on a rotweiller that was threatening him.
The pit bull, he said, “tore that dog up,” but he said he never had a dog that would hurt a person.
The trial resumes today with arguments for the defense. Maureen Faibish faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years if found guilty.