Friday, January 21, 2011

Animal cruelty trial in burning of puppy to begin this afternoon

By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Jury selection in case against twins postponed until Monday

The animal cruelty trial of twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson, set to begin Friday morning, was postponed until the afternoon, when pre-trial motions will be heard.

Jury selection and opening statements will not occur until next week.

The brothers are accused of dousing a pit bull puppy with gasoline in 2009, then setting it on fire. The dog, nicknamed Phoenix by rescue workers, was euthanized.

Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill pushed the trial's start back until 2 p.m. Friday because a jury deliberating in another case needed to briefly use his courtroom to view a recording.

He consequently postponed jury selection until Monday, and said he expects to need a larger-than-average pool of people to draw from. The case has received national attention, and it may be difficult to find jurors who are not already familiar with the allegations.

The trial is expected to last between two and six days, attorneys said.

Update January 26, 2011 - The following article is by Andrea F. Siegal and Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun:

Opening statements postponed in puppy burning trial due to snowstorm

Jury selected Wednesday, trial had been scheduled to begin Thursday

Baltimore City courts closed Thursday because of the overnight snowstorm, postponing the start of the trial for two teenagers accused of setting a pit bull puppy on fire. Opening statements had been scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon.
A jury of seven women and five men, plus three alternate jurors, was chosen from among 90 potential jurors in a process that took almost all day Wednesday.
The biggest issue for jurors will not be whether the puppy, which had to be euthanized, was severely burned. They will have to decide whether either Travers or Tremayne Johnson, or both, doused the dog with gasoline and set her ablaze in May 2009. Prosecutors hope to use tattoos on at least one of the youths' hands to link the teens to a vacant house where they allege dogs were kept, and defense attorneys are seeking to block that evidence.
"It's a circumstantial case," Assistant State's Attorney Janet Hankin told Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill on Wednesday. Another judge earlier imposed a gag order, preventing both sides from publicly discussing the case.
With 95 percent of her body burned, the dog, nicknamed Phoenix by shelter workers, survived a few days before being euthanized. The 18-year-olds are charged with animal cruelty.
Initial reports of the harmed puppy elicited outrage — especially within the animal welfare community — and made a hero of a city officer who smothered the flames with her sweater. The incident also led to a reward fund that topped $25,000 and to the creation of an Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force to study Baltimore's response to such incidents. The task force released a report last year that found Baltimore's approach flawed, with episodes too often ignored or poorly handled. A commission has since been created.
Potential jurors were quizzed Wednesday whether they'd heard about the highly publicized case — 31 said they had — whether they had such "strong feelings about the nature" of the charges that they doubted they could fairly decide it, and whether they were affiliated with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, which initially cared for the puppy, or other animal welfare organizations.
Members of some of those groups are expected to attend the trial, which is likely to continue through the middle of next week.

Update January 28, 2011 - The following article is from WBAL:

Emotional Testimony Begins In Dog-Burning Trial

Twins Accused Of Burning Pit Bull In 2008

Emotional testimony got under way Friday in the trial of twin brothers accused of setting a pit bull on fire.
Tremayne and Travers Johnson are accused of dousing a 2-year-old pit bull with a flammable liquid in southwest Baltimore in May 2009 and setting it on fire. The dog, who rescuers named Phoenix, survived for five days with severe burns but later had to be euthanized.During opening statements Friday, the prosecution painted a picture of a sweet yet abandoned dog who clung to life for five days before being put to sleep. It said through witness testimony, city surveillance video and photos, the dog's story would be told.
But both defense attorneys said the case was botched from the beginning and that lost evidence, poor surveillance video and witness testimony driven by reward money would poke holes in the state's story.
Prosecutors managed to get four witnesses to the stand after the opening statements. WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Lowell Melser said the testimony was emotional and involved graphic photos of the severely burned dog being shown to the jury.The first witness the state called was Detective Syreeta Teel, who was the first to spot the dog on fire. She said her past experience as a fire cadet enabled her to act fast, throwing her sweater over the dog to put out the flames.Melser said the detective fought through tears as she told the jury how the dog smelled like burning hair and flesh. Teel was able to vaguely identify the burning dog and her police cruiser on a city crime camera.The defense asked Teel if she saw anyone running from scene, and she said no. She said no crime scene was set up and her sweater wasn't saved for evidence.
The state also called the animal control officer who first got to the scene. She said Phoenix was whimpering but still very sweet, despite the pain she was in.
The defense again asked if a crime scene was set up, and the officer said no.The last witness of the day was Dr. Jennifer McGough, a Pennsylvania veterinarian who tried to save the dog. She said 80 percent of the dog's body had third-degree burns, which is basically down to the muscle, and it also had burns to its face, eyes and inside its mouth.McGough said the dog was a lovely patient and still wagged her tail despite the pain.The defense asked the doctor if any test were done to see if accelerant was used or if any evidence was taken. She said no to both.The trial will continue Monday morning.

Video

Update January 31, 2011 - The following article is by Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun:

Witness in animal-cruelty case says twin brothers ran from burning dog

Defense disputes claim

A witness said Monday, during the second day of testimony in the animal-cruelty case against Travers and Tremayne Johnson, that she saw the defendants "running from the scene of the crime" seconds after a pit bull puppy was set on fire.
The identifications could net her thousands of dollars in reward money collected after the dog, nicknamed "Phoenix," was fatally burned in 2009, leading defense attorneys to question the motives of the witness. But Tiera Goodman, who is jailed in an unrelated case, readily acknowledged that she was there for the cash — to "get paid," as one lawyer put it.
"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.
It was a blunt admission of indifference compared with the outrage stirred in others over the burning death of the puupy, which was euthanized days after being doused in fuel and set ablaze. Hundreds of people donated nearly $28,000 in reward money, which will be paid out if there's a conviction in the case. And animal welfare representatives have been sitting in on the drawn-out proceedings for days, occasionally alongside law enforcement and local politicians.
Video from a city surveillance camera, narrated and interpreted by Sgt. Jarron Jackson, who was assigned to the case June 2, showed the dog's last moves before the attack in late May.
At 11:48 a.m., a man summons Phoenix and walks her over to two men standing on a street corner in West Baltimore. Their faces aren't visible, and it's hard to make out what they're wearing. The camera is posted high up and yards away.
Jackson identified the two males as the teenage Johnson brothers, however, based on their general appearance and mannerisms. Tremayne has a characteristic "wrist flick" move, Jackson said.
At 11:51, Travers kicks the dog, according to Jackson, and the brothers walk her to an alley entrance off Presbury Street. Seven minutes later, the brothers bolt from the direction of the alley and sprint away — right by Goodman, who's standing in the street with a friend, the sergeant said. Seconds later, Phoenix is seen on fire.
A minute passes, officers arrive and one tries to help the dog while gawkers gather. Then Tremayne Johnson reappears, two minutes after he allegedly ran away, Jackson said.

Update February 1, 2011 - The following article is by Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun:

Reluctant witness in dog burning case says he lied to police

While trying to avoid incriminating his friends, a reluctant witness in the animal-cruelty trial of twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson came close to implicating himself while testifying Tuesday.
Prosecutors interrupted Michael Taylor, 21, while he was answering defense questions on the stand, raising Fifth Amendment concerns and leading the court to call in Taylor's attorney before allowing him to proceed.
The disruption occurred after defense attorneys pointed out that Taylor's appearance matched a description of someone seen running from the West Baltimore alley where a pit bull nicknamed Phoenix was set on fire May 27, 2009.
The Johnson twins, who turn 19 on Saturday, are charged in the crime. Their third day of trial testimony was characterized by lengthy bench conferences, held privately before the judge, and heated questioning of witnesses.
Defense attorneys verbally sparred with the police sergeant who handled much of the investigation, apparently trying to make him agree that Baltimore officers did a poor job by failing to investigate other suspects and not chemically testing certain clothing items.
Instead, they elicited literal responses to hypothetical questions, like whether Tremayne can fly. A surveillance video showed a male identified by police as Tremayne running in one direction, then allegedly walking from another area two minutes later.
"I can't testify as to whether [Tremayne] can fly or not," Sgt. Jarron Jackson said. He added, however, that an individual could run around the block and come from another area. He answered similarly when asked by prosecutors why Tremayne appeared to be wearing a white t-shirt and long sleeves while running, then a blue t-shirt while walking.
"Persons who commit crimes normally try to alter their appearance," Jackson said.
Jackson's testimony appeared to link Tremayne to the dog, by pointing out that the defendant's nickname "Mayne," which is tattooed on his forearm, was found written inside the vacant house on Gilmor Street where the dog stayed and also on a backpack seized from Tremayne's home.
Taylor's testimony was designed to separate the brothers from Phoenix, however. The Johnsons are close friends, and Taylor's home is in the area where the crime occurred. He repeatedly said he didn't want to testify Tuesday, and labeled earlier statements to police "lies."
His goal was "just to make up something … in exchange for freedom," he said.
Taylor was questioned about the dog-burning incident after police raided his home on June 6, 2009, found a gun and marijuana inside, and arrested him and his girlfriend. His case is not resolved.

Update February 2, 2011 - The following article is by Tricia Bishop and Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun:

Debate over 'ignitable liquids,' lab tests during dog burning trial

Panel hears tape of statement given to police by one teen suspect

The animal cruelty trial for the twin teens accused of setting fire to a pit bull stretched into its fourth day Wednesday as prosecutors tried to show that inconclusive lab tests on a dog collar did not rule out the use of flammable substances.
Lawyers for the suspects Travers and Tremayne Johnson called a fire investigations expert to cast doubt on Baltimore police lab tests that showed unknown substances on the collar. The tests did not reveal the use of common "ignitable liquids," such as gasoline or propane.
However, during a cross-examination, prosecutor Jennifer Rallo argued that the test results did not rule out all substances that could have started the blaze, such as turpentine.
"You can tell this is not an ignitable substance?" Rallo asked expert Craig Beyler during cross-examination.
Beyler responded that "we cannot determine" if it is, saying that only "unknown miscellaneous substances" were detected.
During his testimony, Beyler said fire investigators should have used samples from not only the dog collar, but also the sweater a city police officer threw onto the dog to douse the flames and the towel that the dog had been wrapped in. Only the collar and clothes of the brothers were tested.
A police lab analyst testified that she found a mixture of flammable substances on two pairs of jeans and sneakers seized from the 19-year-olds' home, but defense lawyers pointed out that the materials could have been household items such as glue or bug spray.
The analyst said the items were probably contaminated because they were improperly stored by police.
As testimony stretched on, some jurors appeared to lose focus.
One woman seemed to sleep Wednesday morning, her head nodding, while a second woman closed her eyes for minutes at a time and several others yawned or rested their heads in their hands.
The jury listened to a largely inaudible tape of a statement Travers Johnson gave Baltimore police June 5, 2009, more than a week after Phoenix was set on fire.
During the interview, Johnson said he was not outside on the day the dog was attacked or even in the area, because he was in a community detention program for a previous incident that kept him from leaving his father's house in the first block of S. Pulaski St.
He refused to answer any more questions after the detective suggested that there might be video footage of Travers Johnson and his brother on the street with the dog, however.
"I don't want, I don't want [to] answer no more questions," reads a transcript of the interview.
A police surveillance camera recorded several males handling Phoenix shortly before the May 27, 2009, crime, which occurred near Presbury and North Gilmor streets in West Baltimore. Two of the males were identified as the Johnsons by police and one witness.
A representative from the state's Juvenile Justice Center testified Wednesday morning that Travers was not on community detention during the month of May.

Update February 2, 2011 - The following article is from WBAL:

Both Sides Rest Case In Dog Burning Trial

Jury Likely To Get Case Thursday

After four days of testimony in the trial of Baltimore twins accused of burning a pit bull, both sides have rested their case.
Travers and Tremayne Johnson, who were 17 at the time, are accused of dousing lighter fluid on the 2-year-old pit bull and setting it on fire on May 27, 2009. The dog, which was nicknamed Phoenix, died a few days later at a Pennsylvania animal hospital.
During Wednesday's testimony, Detective Lamont Davis played a taped of an interview between himself, another detective and Travers Johnson. 11 News reporter Lowell Melser said the tape was mostly inaudible, but through transcripts, the teen said he was on home detention the day the dog was burned.
When detectives told Travers Johnson they had video of him with the dog that day, the boy claimed the interview was over.Following that, a representative from the Department of Juvenile Services testified that according to department records, Travers Johnson was not on house arrest at all during the month of May.A city trace analyst specializing in fire debris also took the stand. She said she ran tests on two pairs of jeans, a backpack and a pair of sneakers taken from the Johnson home.The analyst testified that a mixture of some sort of ignitable substance was found on the items, although they were packaged incorrectly by investigators and could have contaminated each other.
The state rested its case after that.
The defense's only witness was a fire protection engineer, who downplayed the analyst's findings. He said that more items, such as the dog's fur and a sweater used to put it out, should have been tested to compare results.The defense then rested its case.During the trial, the state called 10 witnesses to the stand, while the defense only called one.Closing arguments are set for Thursday. The case will then go to the jury.

Video

Update February 3, 2011 - The following article is by Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun:

After four full days of testimony and a morning's worth of attorneys' arguments, the animal cruelty case against brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson is now in the hands of a Baltimore jury, which began deliberations Thursday afternoon.

The jury must decide whether the 18-year-old twins brutally set fire to a pit bull known as "Phoenix" in 2009, then ran away, as the prosecution claims — or, whether the defendants have been made fall guys by Baltimore police, who were under pressure from outraged animal welfare advocates to close the case, as the defense says.

Prosecutors spent the morning highlighting the evidence, while the defense team pointed out the lack of it.

Assistant state's attorneys Jennifer Rallo and Janet Hankin systematically connected the dots in their circumstantial case and asked the jury to consider the testimony of their key witness, city police Sgt. Jarron Jackson, akin to that of a reporter: someone who watches and interprets information.

Jackson, who said he's been watching the brothers since 2008, identified them as being with Phoenix on a blurry surveillance video, based on their mannerisms and general appearance, though the figures are far away and their faces are not visible.

He and another witness, Teara Goodman, say the Johnsons are also the two males seen running from the mouth of an alley on Presbury Street, seconds after Phoenix is spotted there on fire. And it's their graffiti tags that are inside the vacant building where the dog was supposedly housed.

Travers lied to police about his whereabouts the day of the May 27, 2009, crime, prosecutors claim. And Tremayne Johnson is clearly visible on the video at one point, they say, sneaking a quick look at the commotion caused by the fire and immediately —suspiciously — turning and briskly walking away, as others gawk.

Defense lawyers interpret that same portion of the video to prove Tremayne's innocence. If he were indeed running from the scene in one direction two minutes earlier, as Jackson said, how could he then calmly walk up the street from another direction, asked Assistant Public Defender Karyn Meriweather, who represents Tremayne.

"Unless he's Superman … how can you possibly explain his appearance at that time?" Meriweather said.

She provided a list of 41 things that the police allegedly failed to do in the investigation. They did not preserve the crime scene, she said; they waited a week to assign an investigator; they didn't collect important evidence; and they didn't investigate other suspects.

Prosecutors pointed out a third potential participant in the crime, seen running in a different direction from the other two males, during their closing arguments Thursday morning. But they had no information on the person's identity.

"The state does not want you to focus on the evidence in this case," said defense attorney Sharon May, who represents Travers. "The state set the stage for you to focus just on the emotional aspect and the horror of this case."

It is horrible, both sides agree.

A young dog was doused in some kind of accelerant and set on fire. Her eyes melted, the bottoms of her feet were burned, her skin flaked away and the interior of her mouth was full of sores. She suffered for five days, until her body gave out and rescue workers euthanized her.

And someone should pay for the crime, they concur. But they're predictably split on their ideas of who that is.

Deliberations are expected to continue through the afternoon.

Update February 7, 2011 - The following article is by Tricia Bishop, Baltimore Sun:

Mistrial in case against twins accused of burning pit bull

After days of deliberations, jurors could not convince lone holdout

The animal cruelty trial of twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson ended in a mistrial Monday after 11 jurors were unable to convince the single holdout that the brothers had set fire to the dog that came to be known as "Phoenix."
The Johnsons smiled faintly as the result was read about 6:30 p.m., after three full days of jury deliberation that followed a five-day trial. Their supporters high-fived each other quietly on one side of the gallery behind them; across the aisle, animal activists stared ahead, mostly stone-faced.
Whether the case will be retried is up to the Baltimore state's attorney's office, which couldn't comment Monday because a gag order is still in place.
Phoenix's 2009 death drew attention and outrage from hundreds of people, who donated thousands of dollars to find the dog's attackers. City officials created a new commission to combat animal abuse, and lawmakers have introduced bills this year to increase protections and criminal penalties.
"Phoenix was a catalyst for enormous change," Caroline Griffin, chair of the city's Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission, said outside the courtroom. "That is her legacy, she has become the face of animal cruelty."
The commission released a report last year showing inadequacies in the city's response to animal abuse incidents, accompanied by a list of inexpensive recommendations for improvement, mostly training. Among the challenges Baltimore faces, the panel said, is a lack of communication among agencies that members described as "simply staggering."
The Johnson trial seemed to underscore their concerns.
The first officer to arrive after the dog was set afire on May 27, 2009, put out the fire, but she never secured or documented the crime scene. No supervisor was called to the site to lead an investigation, and no crime lab pored over it, according to court testimony.
A week passed before police decided which investigative team would be assigned to follow up. No one identified a third suspect captured on video running from the fire. And officers failed to follow evidence-protection protocols when giving the Johnson brothers' clothing to a lab analyst.
"There can be no certainty… because the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore government failed Phoenix on that day. They failed from the very first moment," Assistant Public Defender Karyn Meriweather, who represents Tremayne, said during her closing argument Thursday.
She and defense attorney Sharon May, who represented Travers, hammered away at the flaws in the investigation in an effort to raise doubts about the Johnsons' guilt.
Meanwhile, prosecutors Jennifer Rallo and Janet Hankin hung their case on three things: A 35-minute surveillance video that showed part of the day's events; a Baltimore police sergeant's interpretation of the video; and using logic to connect the dots for the jury in the circumstantial case.
But for one juror, it wasn't enough, according to interviews with other jurors.
The group started out roughly divided, two jurors said, but after a few hours of deliberating, they shifted from seven or eight guilty votes to 11.
"It was a very thorough examination of the facts; we filled in a lot of gaps," said Benjamin Riddleberger, juror No. 10. "It's difficult to get 12 people to agree on anything, and we had a [juror] who just dug in her heels."
Jurors watched the video repeatedly. It showed Phoenix trotting down Presbury Street around 11:47 a.m., then greeting a man, who picks up her leash and delivers her to two males standing on a street corner at 11:50. One minute later, the two males walk her toward the alley.
"We were really looking at the video," said juror No. 5, a man in his 20s who asked not to be identified by name. "Eleven out of 12 of us believed that beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the two defendants with the dog."
Just before the dog appears onscreen, engulfed in flames at 11:58 a.m., three people take off running from the direction of the alley. One takes a left, while two others race to the right. That pair was identified in court as the Johnsons by Baltimore Police Sgt. Jarron Jackson. He had worked in that area for years and said he knew the brothers well enough to recognize them.
Most of the jurors believed him.
"We thought Sgt. Jackson was very credible," juror No. 5 said. "We had only seen the defendants for five or six days and 11 of us were already convinced" it was them.
A close-up shot of Tremayne Johnson sealed it for many. It appeared to show him at the crime scene, deliberately walking toward it, sneaking a quick look, then turning around.
"It's a nonverbal admission of guilt that he knows what happened because he's already looking before he gets there," juror No. 5 said.
The dog, which was nicknamed Phoenix by rescue workers, was badly burned on over 95 percent of her body. Her corneas melted, her skin flaked away and the interior of her mouth was full of sores. She suffered for five days until her body gave out and she was euthanized.
Jurors described tense deliberations that lasted for more than 20 hours. Toward the end, the conversation turned heated, they said, with most jurors trying to change the holdout's mind. They went over the evidence repeatedly, studied maps, recreated steps, listened continually to inaudible police interviews and tried to make sense of poor transcriptions.
"It was one of those situations where she wasn't willing to infer anything, and the videotape, a critical piece of evidence by itself, is unclear," Riddleberger said. "We had to review it scores of times to begin to recognize clothing, patterns of movement of the suspects that we then observed in court" for comparison.
"There is no other logical explanation for who might have caused this," Riddleberger said. "It's hard, and you know, we all want justice to be served, but the truth of the matter is we all are trying to do the right thing and also move on with our lives. We got a [juror] simply not willing to listen to reason; there's not that much you can do."
The Johnsons' friends thanked God that the trial was over and said repeatedly that the evidence wasn't there.
"They have absolutely nothing," said Travers' girlfriend, Jasmiere Mann.
"We were praying for a not-guilty verdict so this case would be over," said family friend Tomasina Degree.
Ann L. Gearhart, director of humane education for the Snyder Foundation for Animals and a member of the city's advisory commission, called the case a learning experience.
"I think it is going to be a rally for not just citizens but the professional organizations in the city in fighting violent crime," Gearhart said. "That's what this case is: violent crime."
Travers Johnson is also facing attempted murder and assault charges in a separate case; his arraignment on those counts is set for March.

Update May 3, 2011 - The following article is by Yeganeh June Torbati, The Baltimore Sun:

Teens accused of setting fire to pit bull to be retried

First attempt to convict Johnson twins ended in mistrial

Prosecutors will take a second try Wednesday at convincing a Baltimore jury that twin brothers set fire to a pit bull in 2009, after a first prosecution ended in a mistrial in February.
Travers and Tremayne Johnson were 17 when they were accused of burning a female pit bull, later nicknamed Phoenix, so badly on May 27, 2009, that the dog had to be euthanized. The case revived attention on animal abuse in Baltimore and provoked outrage from animal-welfare advocates. In its wake, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake established an Anti-Animal Abuse Taskforce.
"This case has galvanized an otherwise complacent city," said Caroline A. Griffin, who chairs the mayor's task force. "This city really did not take the crime of animal abuse seriously until recently."
In the first trial, prosecutors failed to secure a guilty verdict after a single juror rejected the evidence against the Johnsons, resulting in a hung jury.
Scott Heiser, an attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said he expects prosecutors to focus heavily on jury selection this time around.
"Ferreting out those jurors who have perhaps a bias against holding young offenders accountable — that's going to be an issue for the prosecution to work on in this case perhaps more so than the last," Heiser said.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Heiser said, has offered funding to city prosecutors for forensic analysis in the Johnson trial, but he is not personally involved in the case.
In the first trial, jurors heard a case that relied largely on surveillance video that showed part of the incident, the testimony of police Sgt. Jarron Jackson and circumstantial evidence.
The Johnsons' defense attorneys — private lawyer Sharon May and public defender Karyn Meriweather — hammered away at flaws in the police investigation. For instance, a week passed before an investigative team followed up after the injured dog was found, and officers did not follow protocol in protecting evidence when transferring the Johnson brothers' clothing to a lab analyst.
"If these mistakes hadn't been made, you could have defused a whole bunch of the defense's case," said Heiser, who previously worked as a district attorney in Oregon.
Griffin said that although the prosecution put on "an excellent case," popular television crime dramas have led to unrealistic expectations for proof of guilt.
"This 'C.S.I.' effect has spilled over into animal cruelty cases, and the jurors expect to see a lot of forensic evidence," said Griffin, who plans to attend the trial Wednesday.
Her task force, Griffin said, is focusing on developing best practices for investigating animal abuse cases and training veterinarians, technicians and police officers in collecting evidence when they find an abused animal, so that "evidence is presented as cleanly as possible" in court.
The twins' father, Charles Johnson, said his sons were simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and are innocent of animal abuse charges. The prosecutor's office, he said, wants to pin the blame for the brutal act falsely on the twins.
"Their sister has a dog. How come they didn't do that to their sister's dog?" Charles Johnson said. "Those boys were not raised in that fashion to harm any animals like that."
May and Meriweather did not respond to a request for comment, and a spokeswoman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office declined to discuss details of the retrial, citing a judge's gag order in the case.
Ann Gearhart, director of humane education at the Snyder Foundation for Animals, said she believes top city prosecutor Gregg Bernstein directed his office to retry the case after considering the close jury vote and the evidence against the brothers.
"I think if the vote had been a different vote, we wouldn't be having this conversation today," said Gearhart, who serves on the mayor's animal abuse task force. "I think he realized that the jury of 11 to one was very reflective of how the people in Baltimore were thinking about this case."

Update May 4, 2011 - The following article is from The Daily Record:
 
Retrial postponed for teens charged in dog burning

A retrial for twin brothers accused in the fatal burning of a pit bull in Baltimore in 2009 has been postponed.
A mistrial was declared in February after jurors deliberated for two and a half days but failed to reach a unanimous decision. State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein announced days later that prosecutors would try the teens again. The retrial was set to begin Wednesday, but one of the defense attorneys is busy with another trial. It’s now set to begin July 26.
Tremayne and Travers Johnson, who were 17 at the time, are charged with animal cruelty and mutilation of an animal. Police say the twins set the dog on fire. A police officer put out the flames, but the dog had to be euthanized later at an animal shelter.


Related articles:
Trial resumes for two brothers charged in burning death of Phoenix, a pit bull - ohmidog!

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