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Grand jury indicts two San Antonio dog owners over deadly February mauling

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is joined by members of the Najera family and in announcing the indictment of Christian Alexander Moreno and his wife Abilene Schneider.
Joey Palacios
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is joined by members of the Najera family and in announcing the indictment of Christian Alexander Moreno and his wife Abilene Schneider.

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A grand jury returned four charges against the owner of two dangerous dogs who killed an elderly man and injured his wife earlier this year.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales announced the charges alongside the family of 81-year-old Ramon Najera, who was killed in the attack, and Juanita Najera, who survived.

The indictments included two charges each against Christian Alexander Moreno and his wife Abilene Schneider: a second degree felony of dangerous dog attack causing death and injury to the elderly causing bodily injury.

Raymond Najera, the son of Ramon Najera, said the indictments are the first step of accountability. He thanked law enforcement and prosecutors “in taking this loss of our father's life and injuries to my stepmom and turning it into a beacon of hope, and making this tragedy a turning point in our community to make our city a safe place to live.”

Gonzales said the indictments are a notice to the public at large.

“If you’re going to maintain a vicious animal, if you're going to own a vicious dog, you have an obligation to do everything to secure that dog on you premises.”

The attack on Feb. 24 highlighted the difficulties San Antonians face with dangerous and loose dogs. The dogs were described by police as American Staffordshire Terriers and were euthanized shortly after the incident.

It also triggered proposed legislation during the 84th Legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

HB 4759 filed by State Rep. Elizabeth Campos of Bexar County would have removed the affidavit requirement.

In his veto proclamation on June 16, Abbott said the bill would overcriminalize the process.

“Texas’s existing criminal laws penalize attacks by dangerous dogs — so much so that felony arrests have already been made of the dog owners responsible for the tragic attack that took the life of a distinguished Air Force veteran in San Antonio, and that was the catalyst for House Bill No. 4759. The justice system should be allowed to work without the overcriminalization found in this bill,” the proclamation read.

Campos, who was at Thursday's DA press conference, said she plans to refile it in a future legislative session.

“We were going to try to eliminate the affidavit, so that if there is a vicious dog, Animal Care Services would get involved and acknowledge there was a vicious dog and let the local authorities handle it. The bill was not just about the criminal penalty — there was more to it,” she said.

San Antonio’s Animal Care Services is in the final stages of the 2024 budget process, which includes a 26% budget increase for next year and would include additional officers to investigate dangerous dogs.

Moreno and Schneider have since both bonded out of jail and will now await trial.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules