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
If you’re Justin Bieber, you auction it off for charity — thereby avoiding the venom of animal lovers and Internet commenters who might raise questions like:
Aren’t you the same guy who talked, all sweet and sensitive like, about the importance of adopting, loving and never leaving your pets in that PETA public service announcement a little while back?
Where did you get your snake? A pet store? An exotic animal dealer? And did you feed live mice to your boa constrictor, and what might PETA think of that?
Bieber’s baby boa constrictor, which he procured a few months ago and named Johnson, is being auctioned off by charitybuzz. Proceeds will go to Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools in developing nations.
Fine a cause as that may be, this strikes us as some slithery behavior on the part of the self-professed animal lover.
Bieber introduced his new snake to the world at the MTV Video Music Awards back in August. Now, months later, he’s parting with it. The sale is expected to bring in more than $1,000.
The charitybuzz page where the snake is featured is loaded with disclaimers.
The winning bidder, for instance, will be screened carefully before receiving the snake, it notes. (Too bad the first owner wasn’t.)
The website further acknowledges, ”Keeping a pet snake is a long term responsibility. Before making any decision about keeping one please ensure you have the money, space, knowledge, time, resources and enthusiasm required to properly care for the species you intend to keep, for the duration of it’s life.” (Again, unlike the first owner.)
“The welfare of this snake is the sole responsibility of the adopter. The adopter agrees to give the snake good care which includes quality premium food, fresh water, sanitation and grooming, clean and secure indoor housing, clean and secure outdoor housing and overall safety. Winner must sign a Personal Injury and Limited Liability release, and must guarantee necessary vet care will be provided.”
In the two PSA’s he made for PETA, Bieber goes on and on about his love for animals, and our obligations to them.
Last month, he was the news — or at least in what passes for news when it comes to celebrities – for adopting a dog in Canada with his girlfriend Selena Gomez. He later said he had no role in that: “I didn’t adopt a dog, no. A friend of mine did. I don’t take credit for the dog. I don’t have anything to do with that dog.”
There’s a snake in this story, alright. I’m just not sure who it is.
(Photo from CharityBuzz)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandonment, adoptions, animals, auction, bids, boa constrictor, celebrity, charity, charity buzz, charitybuzz, johnson, justin bieber, mtv, pencils of promise, pet stores, peta, pets, public service announcement, reptiles, snake, snakes, video music awards
The first trial ended Monday in a hung jury.
The new trial is scheduled for May 4, ABC2 in Baltimore reported.
The announcement came after a series of meetings held by the prosecutor’s office this week.
The dog, named Phoenix, was doused with accelerant and set on fire in the summer of 2009 — an act that would make headlines across the country, lead to the formation of a citywide animal abuse task force and provoke outrage from animal welfare advocates.
The five-day trial came to a close Monday after the jurors deliberated for more than 20 hours over three days, but couldn’t agree on a verdict. One juror wasn’t convinced of the brothers’ guilt in the attack, according to news reports.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruetly, animal welfare, animals, baltimore, brothers, burning, courts, crime, dog, dogs, fire, hung jury, johnson, may 4, new trial, pets, phoenix, phoenix case, pit bull, pitbull, prosecutors, retrial, torture, travers, tremayne, trial, twins, violence
A witness, bluntly acknowledging that she came forward only because an award was offered, said she saw Travers and Tremayne Johnson run “from the scene of the crime” seconds after a pit bull puppy was set on fire.
Tiera Goodman, who is jailed in an unrelated case, testified today in the twins’ trial in Baltimore on animal cruelty charges.
“I know what I saw, I just didn’t care until I seen the reward,” Goodman said, explaining why she waited six days before approaching police about the pit bull who was set on fire in the the summer of 2009.
Goodman stands to gain thousands of dollars in reward money that was collected after the dog, nicknamed “Phoenix,” after five days of suffering, was euthanized. About $28,000 in donations were taken in for the reward, which will be paid if there’s a conviction in the case, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Prosecutors today showed video from a city surveillance camera, showing the street scene minutes before the attack in late May.
As narrated in court by Sgt. Jarron Jackson, the video showed a man call the dog, then walk her over to two other men standing on the corner. While the footage is fuzzy, Jackson identified the two males as the Johnson brothers, based partly on their mannerisms, he said.
Jackson said the video shows Travers kicking the dog before taking her to an alley and disappearing from the camera’s view. Seven minutes later, the brothers ran out of the alley, and seconds later the burning dog appeared.
Goodman told the courtroom she left the scene when police arrived, and came forward only “because there was a reward. It’s posted all over the projects.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 31st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, doused, fire, gasoline, johnson, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, reward, testimony, tiera goodman, torture abuse, travers, tremayne, trial, twins, witness
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill has ruled in favor of the prosecution on several important pre-trial motions in the case of Travers and Tremaine Johnson, twins charged with animal cruelty in the death of a pit bull who came to be known as Phoenix.
The judge ruled that a woman who identified the brothers to police can testify. In addition, he ruled that prosecutors may use a statement by Travers Johnson to police, as well as a city surveillance video.
The trial continues today, with more pretrial motions and jury selection, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The brothers are accused of putting gasoline on a pit bull puppy in May 2009, then setting her on fire. Burned over 95 percent of her body, the dog had to be euthanized days later when her organs failed.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burning, court, cruelty to animals, dogs, dousing, fire, gasoline, johnson, judge, motions, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, prosecution, rulings, travers, tremaine, trial, twins
Travers and Tremayne Johnson, the 17-year-old twin brothers accused of fatally burning a pit bull, have been arrested and are being held without bail after police said they found guns and marijuana inside their Southwest Baltimore rowhouse.
This time, the twins were charged as adults.
The twins, who were charged as juveniles in the animal cruelty case, face new charges of possession of firearms, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore police announced the arrest of the youths June 8 in connection with the case of Phoenix, a pit bull who had been doused with gasoline and set on fire. The dog, burned over 95 percent of her body, died several days later. The case led to calls for stiffer penalties in animal cruelty cases, and $26,000 was donated to a reward fund.
In that case, the brothers were released to the custody of their father.
According to the Sun, court document show police raided the house on June 16 and filed adult charges against the twins two days later. Authorities did not confirm the arrests until Thursday.
Newly filed court documents say that detectives have a witness “who positively identified both Travers Johnson and Tremayne Johnson as the individuals who were running out of the alley with the burning dog.” The documents also state that the “incident was captured” on police surveillance video.
Police said they they found three guns – a loaded .38-caliber Taurus handgun inside a rubber boot, a 20-gauge shotgun and a Marlin Firearms .30-.30-caliber rifle in the later search of the twins’ home. Police said they found a digital scale with a small amount of marijuana.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adult, animal cruelty, arrested, baltimore, burning, charges, drug possession, fire, firearms, gasoline, guns, johnson, phoenix, pit bull, police, set on fire, teenagers, travers, tremayne, twins, weapons
Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said he’s confident police arrested “the right guys” in connection with the death of Phoenix, the Baltimore pit bull who was doused with gasoline and set on fire last month.
But the parents of the boys say their sons weren’t involved.
“They didn’t do it. I would put my life on the line that they didn’t do it,” the boys’ father, Charles Johnson told WBAL-TV. ”If you’re on fire or anybody else is on fire, you’re going to take off running. That’s probably what the dog (did). Who knows where it was set on fire at.”
“You know, 17-year-olds, they’re going to get into a little something. But they wouldn’t set a dog on fire. I think one of them is afraid of a dog,” Johnson said.
Bealefeld said today that the pit bull may have been part of a dogfighting operation.
Police charged the two teenagers in connection with the crime, but unexplainedly canceled a news conference yesterday to announce the arrests, according to a Baltimore Sun article
“I understand there are still some concerns about some of the things that [prosecutors] are looking for us to do in continuing with the investigation, but I’m confident that we have the right guys based on all that I’ve heard,” Bealefeld said.
“We got some information in the early stages concerning possible identity of these guys, and then, based on a review of evidence from the scene, we were able to secure another witness who put us over the top,” Bealefeld said.
WBAL-TV identified the juveniles as Travis and Jermaine Johnson, who are twin brothers.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, arrests, baltimore, crime, dogs, fire, jermaine, johnson, juveniles, news ohmidog!, phoenix, pit bull, report, travis, twins, wbal
In what the Washington Post hailed as a victory for dog walkers, charges were dismissed against a woman who was arrested for letting her leashed miniature poodles walk on a neighbor’s lawn in Calvert County.
The case pitted dog owner Linda May Johnson against her former neighbors, Maryland State Police sergeant James Barth and his wife. Johnson has since moved to New Hamsphire.
The state police filed trespassing charges against Johnson, claiming she and her dogs walked on the Barth’s lawn. The Barths also claimed that the dogs, Ollie and Hershey, relieved themselves on their lawn, but that was not part of the criminal case.
Johnson, 47, was cuffed and hauled to jail after her arrest.
On Monday, the case was placed on the court’s inactive docket.
“Let’s face it. This is two poodles being walked through the neighborhood,” said John Erly, Johnson’s attorney. “They realized it wasn’t a case that was worth their time.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Rappaport, who the Post said declined to comment on the case, announced in court that the state would officially dismiss the charges against Johnson in six months, provided she did not get arrested or attempt to contact the Barths.
In a temporary restraining owner filed against Johnson in May, Jennifer Barth wrote that Johnson would yell obscenities when she walked the dogs in the yard. That temporary order, obtained after Johnson’s arrest, was dismissed when Barth, 35, did not attend a court hearing to finalize it.
“Ultimately, the end result is a dismissal, which is what I wanted,” Johnson told the Post. As for the dogs, “They’re fine. They’re enjoying living in a very dog-friendly neighborhood.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 21st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barth, calvert county, court, dismissal, dispute, dogs, johnson, lawn, maryland, miniature poodles, neighbors, news, st. leonard, state police