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Trial resumes for two brothers charged in burning death of Phoenix, a pit bull

The much-delayed trial for Travers and Tremayne Johnson — two Baltimore  brothers charged with animal cruelty in connection with death of a pit bull named Phoenix — will resume Monday morning.

The opening of the trial was postponed Friday due to courtroom scheduling problems. In addition, one of the suspects, Travers Johnson, who is in custody on unrelated attempted-murder charges, was not transported to court in time, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Pretrial motions will be heard, and jury selection is scheduled to begin, on Monday.

The brothers are accused of dousing a pit bull puppy with gasoline and setting her on fire in 2009. The dog, nicknamed Phoenix by its rescuers, struggled several days to survive, but had to be euthanized when her organs began to fail.

Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill is expected to assemble a larger-than-average pool of potential jurors in hopes of finding some not familar with the case, which received national attention.

According to the Sun, attorneys expect the trial to last between two and six days.

Defense motions have been filed to suppress Travers Johnson’s statement to police, and certain witness identifications. Additional motions raise issues with city surveillance videos, a witness who has expressed a desire to recant, and whether the prosecution can include references to the teens’ tattoos and alleged gang involvement.

The Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS), which cared for Phoenix briefly, has asked animal advocates not to attend the trial as space is limited and “too much representation from the animal community could potentially hurt Phoenix’s case.”

Instead, BARCS suggested supporters wait until after a verdict and, if the brothers are found guilty, that they attend the sentencing hearing.

“If there is a conviction in this case, community participation will be needed and appreciated at the sentencing hearing,” BARCS said in a letter to supporters. “We will notify the community of this hearing if indeed these defendants are found guilty.”


Comment from Angie (Snoopy and Rummer’s Mom)
Time January 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

It is so horrible what happened to Phoenix, and I truly hope that these two men are found guilty. I hate when people do horrible things like this for no reason and it makes you question what kind of humans they are. Luckily, cases for animal abuse are starting to become more important in the eyes of the law, although not as much they should in my opinion. By the way, I am new to your blog, and really appreciate all the great posts and information you cover here.

Comment from Sue
Time January 31, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Their mother should have drowned these 2 pieces of s–t on the day they were born. I hope she reads this but I doubt she can read.

Comment from linda
Time February 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

The case concerning Phoenix will always be etched in my heart. She never deserved such a tragic end to her life. She now sits at God’s feet. For the two SOB’S who committed this horrific crime should be tried be animal activist, they should be publicly strung up by their balls, and doused with gasoline and set on fire. I’d love to be the one who lights the first match. These brothers are lower then low-life. My praises go out to the employees at BARCS for their attempts to save Phoenix’s life. God bless you…