Trial resumes for two brothers charged in burning death of Phoenix, a pit bull
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.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, baltimore, barcs, brothers, burned, burning, cruelty, cruelty to animals, death, dog, dogs, fire, gasoline, jury, killed, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial