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DETROIT (AP) — The mother of a 4-year-old Detroit boy who was mauled to death by pit bulls described the lingering emotional effects of the attack that only ended when police shot the animals, as the dog’s owner was sentenced Thursday to jail time and probation.

Before Geneke Lyons was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter in the brutal attack, Lucille Strickland — with torrents of tears tumbling down her cheeks — told the Wayne County Circuit Court that she wakes each morning and kisses a picture of her son, Xavier.

“I think about him every day, because that’s a part of me that was taken that I cannot get back,” she said. “It’s taken a lot out of me to just move on. If I could just have him, I would be OK, but I know that’s never going to happen.”

Xavier and his mother were walking through a west side Detroit neighborhood on Dec. 2, 2015, when they were attacked by three dogs. The boy was dragged beneath a gate into a yard where a fourth dog joined the attack.

Police had to shoot the animals to free the boy’s body.

Lyons wasn’t home at the time, but prosecutors said he should be held responsible because the dogs weren’t under control. Evidence included security video of the fatal mauling, which left some jurors in tears.

Strickland said Lyons “does not know how it feels to bury a child … does not know how it feels to be attacked by them animals.”

Lyons, 42, said he couldn’t imagine the mother’s pain.

“I’m really, really sorry … very, very sorry of Xavier losing his life,” he told her. “And I wish I could have made it back in time to save, or to stop or to put the dogs down.”

Strickland said she was willing to forgive him.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan sentenced Lyons to a year in jail with work release and five years’ probation. He said the punishment was below sentencing guidelines because he believed Lyons was truly remorseful. Callahan also said Lyons had turned his life around after an earlier drug dealing conviction.

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(Photo Source: AP)

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