Phoenix, the Pit Bull Set on Fire, Gets No JusticePublished April 19, 2012
While eyewitnesses’ reports and supporting evidence led to the arrest of the Johnson brothers, the first trial held in February 2011 ended up in a hung jury. The second trial in which the not guilty verdict was reached, only lasted for about an hour.
In 2009 the young dog Phoenix received fatal burns over 80 percent of her body. Twin brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson were charged on May 27 of 2009 for allegedly dousing the dog with an accelerant and setting her on fire.
The critically injured dog was found alive by Baltimore police officer who immediately rushed the suffering dog to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS). Five days later, sadly Phoenix had to be euthanized due to the severity of her burns.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, following the second trial on April 11 in Baltimore, Maryland, the brothers, now 20 years-of-age, were found not guilty of the crimes for which they were charged. Throughout both trials the Johnson family and their relatives have consistently maintained Trevor’s and Tremayne’s innocence. Read more about it on the Baltimore Sun online.
Eyewitnesses chose not to testify at the second trial, although they testified at the first one. The reasons for these choices have not yet been released. The police sergeant, who identified the brothers in a video showing the Johnson boys walking the dog shortly before her attack, also chose not to testify.
Animal activists were highly disappointed and frustrated with the trial results. Gregg Bernstein, Baltimore State's Attorney said he was "disappointed" by the outcome.
Caroline Griffin, the leader of the mayor's Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission, formed directly due to Phoenix's death, commented that while many people got together to try to help the fatally injured dog receive justice, the verdict of the jury has to be accepted.
She suspects that the case was compromised by the witnesses' refusal to testify.
In a message issued by Jennifer Brause, BARCS’ Executive Director, acknowledging the disappointment and anger many people are feeling because justice will never be rendered to the people who killed Phoenix, she said,” (Phoenix) did not die in vain. Her story had a profound effect on people across the U.S. and the world, and she was a catalyst for change in Baltimore.”
Although many people are upset and angry with the trial outcome, out of its ashes, a Pit Bull dog named Phoenix has made a profound contribution.
Her tragedy has now paved the way for major changes in the way Baltimore handles cruelty to animal cases. Law enforcement is now receiving special training on the way evidence is gathered from crime scenes which involve animals.
What are your thoughts about the “not guilty” verdict? Share them in a comment.