NEW BOSTON, Texas–A man whose pack of menacing dogs seriously wounded a 9-year-old Texarkana boy last year was sentenced Thursday to 35 years in a Texas prison by a Bowie County jury.
Ray Lee Cockrell, 60, was convicted of injury to a child by omission and attack by dog resulting in serious bodily injury at the end of a trial that began Tuesday before 102nd District Judge Jeff Addison at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston.
Cockrell’s pack of dogs, which mauled a 9-year-old boy Sept. 5, 2022, had been the subject of numerous emergency calls in the weeks leading up to the shocking attack.
Assistant District Attorney Bradley Akins, who represented the state, thanked the jury for “holding the owner of multiple dangerous dogs–who refused to cooperate with law enforcement–responsible.”
Akins noted Cockrell’s “pure defiance of the law” as leading to the boy’s injuries and emphasized the key role juries play in the criminal justice system, telling TXK Today on Thursday that “this process and the rule of law cannot continue without their help.”
Cockrell was repeatedly warned by law enforcement about the frightening pack of canines but did nothing to control them, according to a probable cause affidavit. The boy and some friends were walking back to his grandmother’s house after swimming in Gifford Hill pond when the attack occurred.
A 12-year-old relative of the victim, who was transported by ambulance to a Texarkana hospital for treatment of wounds to his arms and torso, provided Bowie County Sheriff’s Office investigators with a terrifying eyewitness account.
Cockrell’s unruly dogs had been the subject of multiple complaints since July 2022, according to the affidavit.
“With just the incidents reported to the sheriff’s office, Ray Cockrell’s dogs have been identified as the animals that have chased livestock, were aggressive to humans, have killed a neighbor’s dog and have now caused a terrible injury to a 9-year-old child,” the affidavit said.
Deputies who feared they would be mauled shot at a group of 12 to 15 dogs on Cockrell’s property on Hickory Wood Drive in Texarkana on Aug. 25, 2022, after responding to a call about a man and his mother being intimidated by the animals that day on south State Line Avenue, the affidavit said.
A man riding a scooter near Cockrell’s house on Aug. 13, 2022, reported the dogs came at him, getting hold of his pants but not making contact with his skin. While deputies were responding to that call, they received a report that a horse in the area had been attacked resulting in punctures and cuts to the animal’s back legs.
The horse owner made a prior report on July 13, 2022, after two of their animals suffered dog bite injuries to their necks and legs, the affidavit said. Cockrell admitted to making no effort to pen his dogs and received a “dogs dangerous to animals” notice that date.
A neighbor of Cockrell’s complained on July 12, 2022, just a day before the first report of attacks on horses, that one of his dogs was killed after five of Cockrell’s dogs got into a pen on his property on south State Line Avenue.
“The deputy went to Ray Cockrell’s home, but due to being surrounded by about 10 aggressive dogs, the deputy contacted Texarkana animal control to assist him. Ray Cockerell was contacted, and an attempt was made to capture the dogs, but all of them escaped and Ray Cockrell left before the deputy did,” the affidavit said.
Cockrell received a 35-year sentence for injury to a child along with a $7,000 fine. For the dog attack charge, Cockrell was sentenced to 10 years and assessed a $3,000 fine by the jury. Akins said the two prison terms will run concurrently.
Cockrell has been in custody since his arrest Sept. 9, 2022. He will remain in the Bowie County jail until he is transported to a unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.