Tag: Gregg Bernstein
Closing arguments were made today and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before pronouncing the brothers not guilty of a crime that led the city to reexamine and strengthen its animal welfare laws and procedures.
Phoenix — the name the dog was given after her rescue — was euthanized days after she was found, on fire, by a Baltimore police officer.
The first trial for the Johnson brothers ended in a hung jury in February 2011.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein issued the following statement after the verdict:
“While I respect the jury’s decision, I am disappointed we didn’t achieve the outcome that we fought for during two challenging trials. Animal cruelty is a serious crime of violence, and those who commit it too frequently commit subsequent crimes of violence against humans. As we demonstrated in this case, we are dedicated to vigorously prosecuting individuals accused of this appalling offense.”
Defense attorneys for the Johnsons focused their defense on whether police mishandled the investigation and some of the evidence.
Craig Beyler, a fire protection engineer, called to the stand as an expert, testified that police mishandled clothing seized from the Johnsons’ South Baltimore home by mixing two pairs of jeans and a pair of sneakers in one bag. The clothing contained traces of an ignitable substance that could not be identified, but Beyler said it could have been a common chemical used in sneakers that might have transferred from the shoes to the jeans.
Prosecutors’ arguments linking the brothers to the burning centered mainly on a police surveillance video recorded from atop a pole near the crime scene.
No DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence connected the suspects to the crime.
A police sergeant identified the brothers in the video, in which two young men can be seen walking the dog minutes before the burning, and running away from the scene afterwards. A bystander, Tiera Goodman, told police soon after the incident she too saw the brothers run from the scene.
But Goodman refused to testify in the retrial. A video of her testimony from the first trial was played instead.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, burning, cruelty to animals, died, dogs, doused, euthanized, Gregg Bernstein, johnson, killed, not guilty, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, retrial, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, verdict