Mistrial Declared In Dog Burning Case

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A jury could not agree on a verdict in a high-profile case of animal abuse.

Andrea Fujii reports the mistrial comes nearly two years after the young pit bull was set on fire in West Baltimore and left to die.

Jurors deliberated for three days, but were not able to agree on whether two boys doused a dog in gasoline and set her on fire. 

The case has become a test for how future animal abuse cases will be handled in the city.

There are polar opposite reactions regarding this case.  The accused are glad they weren’t convicted and animal welfare advocates are disappointed there’s no conclusion.

A mistrial was declared in the infamous case of a dog named Phoenix who was doused with gas and set on fire in 2009 in Baltimore.  She later died.  Twin brothers, Travers and Tremayne Johnson, were accused of the crime.

After three days of deliberations, jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

“This jury has to be commended.  I think they were simply remarkable for their hard work and dedication in trying to reach a verdict,” said Caroline Griffin, Baltimore Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force.

Juror #5 didn’t want to go on camera, but says that at the time of the declaration, it was 11 to one in favor of convicting Travers and Tremayne Johnson.  The dissenting vote believed there was reasonable doubt and wouldn’t budge.

“I’m satisfied with the result of the mistrial.  Hopefully the state will realize they don’t have the evidence to retry this case again because the evidence isn’t going to change,” said family friend Tomasina Degree.

“We’re disappointed the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict and we are hopeful the State’s Attorney’s Office will retrial this,” said Griffin, who hopes there will be a new trial.

“Citizens of Baltimore will definitely be paying attention to this,” said Ann Gearhart, Snyder Foundation For Animals.

The trial lasted a total of five days.

Travers Johnson remains in police custody in a separate attempted murder case.

It’s unknown whether the case will be retried.  That’s up to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

  • Bc Icedog

    with 2 members of the jury dozing off last week wouldn’t the prosecutor be better of to have objected

    • Debbie Cooper

      This is ridiculous. We just put a gasoline can in the hands of criminals to go ahead and kill whomever or whatever they like. This is really sad!!!!!
      Next time it will be person, these two just got away with MURDER!!!

      • babimomma05

        notice at the bottome of the post it plainly says one of the brothers is still in custody for seperate attempted murder charges…murders always start out with animals than move on to real people

    • Kenn Stanley

      This is disgusting!!!!

      • D. BOS.

        This is RACISM!! Is it??

  • KottaMan

    I hardly think that the police just picked these two out of the general population and arrested them. Hopefully, the nodding jury members will wake up. Hopefully, the right verdict will result. Hopefully, such savagery in the City will get the attention it deserves on a go-forward basis.

    • Bc Icedog

      they were also charged with attempted murder in another case

      • Jen Swanson

        Actually only Travers is facing attempted murder charges. But give it time, I guarantee Tremayne will follow suit shortly.

      • Liz

        Lock and Load baby , someone

        should hunt them down and

        serve them for dinner at the pound

  • Ron Clark

    Maybe if parents would discipline their children ,things like this wouldn’t happen as often. Kids nowadays have too much freedom to do as they please. It is quite obvious that those 2 hoodlums did this. Maybe a couple of years in the slammer will straighten them out. I am sick of this violence and everyone getting set free because of some little technicality!!!

    • lovedogshatepeople

      Crackheads don’t do discipline

    • Mike

      No, it wont.

      These people will never be straightened out, because they’ve been punished so lightly by the Juvenile system that they believed they could get away with animal cruelty and even murder. Setting them free again only means they will then have enough courage or lack thereof in the judicial system that they can get away with anything. Next logical step for them would be organizating terrorist attacks while creating the worlds largest distributor of child pornography.

      Enough is enough. The criminals feel they are above the law, and they will continue to feel they are above the law until they dont get a chance to break another law.

      It is time to introduce mandatory sentences for gun charges. Gang enchancements for gang members arrested for violent crimes. A 3 strike rule for violent juvenile offenders that results in incarceration until age 30. It is time to end the millions of wasted tax dollars spent on prosecuting drug addicts.

      • Liz

        bravo mike I couldn’t agree more

  • masscas

    Only 2 words. Either PUBLIC FLOGGING or TIRE COLLAR

  • Joseph

    Its not like that! But wether you accept it or not, it’s always blacks doing most of the violence and they don’t want to
    Work! I’m not raiscist, and you are free to think what you want, there’s plenty of whites and Hispanics as well, but it’s mostly blacks! And just for the record I’m not superior than anyone but I do wake up everyday and earn my living, and try to educate my kids, and show them
    The bad from
    Wrong, so that one day they could be somebody in this life!

    • Melissa

      These young men have been incarcerated for two years! The dog is gone and the evidence has been deemed inconclusive. Stop acting as if you were there and you saw it happen. What these two young men are still experiencing two years later is inhumane. Unless you were there and you saw it, give these men the respect they deserve; they have no criminal records so stop characterizing them as criminals.

      “a fire protection engineer who characterized earlier testimony that an accelerant was found on two pairs of jeans a backpack and sneakers taken from the Johnson home as inconclusive and incomplete.

      The defense witness said tests on the collar of the dog, named Phoenix, were also inconclusive and didn’t detect any particular ignitable substance.”

      • masscas


        You are sick, really sick Trevor is the only one who has been locked up on a DIFFERENT alleged murder. Tremayne HAS NOT been locked up for 2 years. They are just rotten people who deserve to be punished and not feft to bleeding hearts like yourself. You make “the facts” say what ever you want and your pseudo intellectualism makes me ill. You are definitely part of the problem, not the solution.

      • Melissa

        Is it really that much effort to respond to a disagreement without the name calling? I’m not a child and I’m uncomfortable replying to that tone.

        Alleged? When one is questioned or detained by an authoritative system; regardless of how obscure the reasoning is; the outcome either leads to charges and possible conviction. Since he was not put in jail it stands to reason this young man was found to have done nothing wrong, but put through a great imposition for reasons beyond his control.

        I get the misunderstanding… its difficult to understand something unless you have first hand experience, however the truth is that the black community is always targeted. I encourage those who consider themselves to be even minded, to take this opportunity to get find some truth or falsehood in my allegation of the targeted black community.

        In this case, there is nothing beyond a reasonable doubt to even consider, these young men are the victims now.

        Follow this response however you feel necessary, I’m really at a loss for words. I understand we all are different in culture and beliefs, but most my life I was proud to be American as this was a fair and great country, but the comments made against these young men are despicable.

    • bob

      Bad from Wrong? You’re kids are going to be messed up!

    • Mike

      Oh Joseph I’ve come to accept that most of the crime in Baltimore is committed by African Americans considering the population base of this area.

      The face of crime in America has become the Black male. Statistics show that isnt the case overall, but the thuggery in the inner city is what catches your attention. It has the same effect on others like yourself, espescially who live in this state. You are concerned & intrigued by the violent crime, but please be aware in most cases the suspects & the victims are the same type of criminal.

      Both need to be put away for the sake of their communities they reign terror over.

      • Bob_Realist

        What about the blacks? There are more blacks than AA’s in Baltimore. My sister used to be an officer in Baltimore but moved on after seeing the same people she arrested back on the streets calling her names because they got off easy.

    • Belin

      I love my dog….This is not a color situation, Maryland is a prejudice state, I am elated that my feelings are being validated, even if the prejudice is hidden behind mask,blogs or hate posse’,ect. There was a injustice done to the poor dog, it did not matter what color the attackers were.

  • LadyEsmerelda

    “The twins’ father says they’re being made scapegoats.” Oh dear God… wake up Daddy!!! Your two boys are guilty as He#L, and deserve to face the consequences for their actions! It would probably be the first time they have been held accountable in their lives… but wait, this is Baltimore city, never mind, they’ll walk…. How disgusting.

    • Mariela

      Unfortunately, stupid is now a gene that gets passed down from generation to generation…

  • http://www.localsearchandfind.net/s/how-to-keep-dog-from-running-off Local Search and Find

    Local Search and Find…

    Local Search and Find…

  • harsh reality

    Not that it matters to anyone in particular, but I swear to god I will never give anything ever again to any charity that helps families from poor inner city areas for as long as I live. I don’t care of the cause, I don’t care of the need, you can all rot in hell as far as I am concerned because you deserve nothing, I will never again lift a finger to help you, I wont hold the door open for you, I wont let you out in traffic, I will do whatever I can to add to your misery. I hate all you inner city low life losers with every fiber of my being.

    I don’t care what color you are, you are all worthless, uneducated, nasty thugs.

    • JLL

      Couldn’t agree more.



    • Noaharc

      amen but one of the kids spit at the tv camera–I’m sure he thought it made him look real cool–jerk imho


      They didn’t burn this defenseless creation of God because they are black…they got out of paying for their crime because they are black. I hate like hell to admit it. The female, black juror who refused to budge has been accused by the rest of the jury of making her decision before all the facts were in and REFUSING to change her mind despite all of the evidence…. then she went on camera and said, “you should just leave these boys alone”…. with the smile of a girlfriend defending her man. It was frightening. I can’t put into words how offended I am by people who seek to destroy the black community by continuing to behave just like the racists in the world expect them to.

  • Joseph

    Stop been lazy Get a job! And educate the children!

    • GrammarCSI

      Really, when one seeks to encourage education, one should express themselves with appropriate and correct grammar.


    An Eye for an Eye. … Someone needs to set the boys on fire just enough that they are in terrible pain, but not enough for them to die. Then they need to be left to suffer for a few days before someone comes in the room and clubs them over the head and puts them out of their misery. Only then will justice be served for Phoenix. If the court system doesn’t start making examples of these hate mongers, then they will never change and poor innocent animals and people will continue to get hurt.

    • Bob_Realist

      Napalm sounds good. Throw a little water on in the middle to spread the joy? If it’s good enough for our enemies…

      I give to charity but not funding. I sacrifice my time to those who appreciate it.

    • disgustedinbalto

      AMEN.. you said it so well Dennis

  • C


  • linda

    City judicial system ~ what a joke! That’s the culture of Baltimore city ~ no respect for animal or human life!

  • Animal Lover



    • urnotfunny

      It won’t matter if they re-try the case, the same thing will happen, some low life POS on the jury will say, oh, the video is too blurry. Why waste more of the taxpayers money.

    • IfornI

      Animal lover… Phoenix was black, too.

  • Kristy Wingate

    I pride myself on being brutally honest and I will be no less so here. For those of you making comments about racial issues – what about this trial has anything to do with race? Two young “humans” (they cannot be referred to as men by any stretch of the imagination – they don’t qualify) are being tried for torturing killing a dog by setting it on fire. The prosector in this case is obligated to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are guilty. If they failed to do so, and it resulted in a hung jury, the only logical, ethical and legal response is to declare a mistrial. How did this result become a racial issue? The victim of this crime was neither black nor white….simply a living, breathing animal…WAS being teh operative word. EVERYTHING involving african americans, or hispanics, or middle easterners, or purple-people-eaters is not automatically a racial issue!!!! PERIOD!

    • Celina

      Kristy: I agree with you that this story is about a poor defenseless animal who was savagely burned–not race. The comments in this forum SHOULD be about his senseless torture and death, and how we can prevent this tragedy again.

      Nonetheless, if I see ignorance being spewed about people of ANY color, it needs to be set straight. There should be no tolerance of bigotry in this forum or anywhere else.

    • Jogar

      Beyond a REASONABLE doubt Kristey.Learn the law before quoting it. With jurors sleeping through the trail nothing but going home is reasonalbe to themLogic and ethics mean nothing to citizens who swear an oath and the sleep through their duty. But I agree it’s not racial it’s creulty,and should not be tolerated.

    • Ed Dobar


  • harsh reality

    You idiot – people don’t hate these two because they are black. If they were white there would be just as much outrage….but you won’t want to hear that will you?

    Black people are so much more racist than whites, every time the race card is pulled it is a passive aggressive act of racism against white people. The people here have just had enough.

    Sure some of it is insulting, but that’s anger and frustration.

    • Celina

      It seems to me that you are the hypersensitive one; generalizing all people on the basis of color. Shame on you. Turn your attention to where it belongs: this poor animal.

    • Belinda

      Whatever never seen your Granpa hanging from a tree…

      • Diane King

        what the heck does this ugly piece of history have to do with anything? It’s 2011!

  • jay

    If these two juveniles do this to a defenseless animal, imagine what they will do to a human being.

    • Mike


      One already attempted to murder a human being.

  • Celina

    Mike: Great comment!

    Joseph and Obama Lover: Have you all ever been anywhere but Baltimore city? Your view of Black Americans is incredibly myopic and negative; it’s pretty obvious that you don’t know anything beyond shallow judgments or what you’ve read at stormfrontorg. Reality: As a collective, 84% of Blacks are employed (and raising families just like everybody else). There’s a bigger world than Baltimore City, and you’d be smart to not categorize all or a majority of Blacks. If I were to categorize all Whites by what I saw in Baltimore city, Whites wouldn’t be too exemplary either.

    • the truth

      Hey Celina what thae statistics don’t tell you is the 84 percent employed are just cheating the system they have some BS job that they sleep at that requires no skill and collect a check while their baby producing whale sits home and still collects welfare and live in section8 housing so give me a break its all a lie don’t go there with the they are employed why you think they don’t get married because they don’t wanna lose their government and state handouts sick p.o.s

      • Mercedes CLS 550

        WOW. You’re so intelligent, so resourceful and so truthful.

  • Carrie C

    How can anyone do such an evil thing to an animal? Yes, I care just as passionately about people who have been mistreated, but my anger and hurt is that animals have no voice. My heart is broken that Pheonix has still yet to find justice. We are all on this planet for a short time so why not enjoy what has been given to us. If you don’t like dogs (or animals in general) then PLEASE don’t get one and make them suffer a lonely life on the end of a chain with only (maybe) a pet once a day, very basic shelter, lack of warmth/cool temps, et. I could go on about how much a dog can enrich your life but I feel most people should understand.

  • Claudia

    It is apparent that most that are posting comments know nothing about animal welfare and how this case shows mans inhumanity, which will ultimately lead to harming a human. Point being one is already awaiting a trial on charges of attempted murder. People that harm animals move on to humans. Phoenix died a horrible death and sadly her death will not bring about any change. You already have a cat that had a similar thing done again by teenagers. I am one of the people that take animals that have been mistreated into my home to help. I have seen this over and over with no change. Sadly, PHoenix is once again a victim of people. I do agree this has nothing to do with race and it is ignorant to claim such.

  • Angelika Santiago

    Statistics have proven younge people that torcher and kill animals continue to move up the food chain looking for the next thrill. Note that one of the boys is already being held on attempted murder charges.
    Let these people walk because “It’s just an animal” and the next time they want a little fun it could be YOU they choose to torch in some back wood area while they disect your child.
    Read up on any serial murderer and you’ll find most all practiced on animals first.

    • Mike


      Great point as well.

      People may look at them as the typical street thug, I am looking at them as psychopaths. Seriously, do we need a cannibal serial killer on the loose before the judges realize this is the exact type of behavior that precedes a serial killer.

  • Jogar

    For Kristy Wingate: It’s pretty dificult for a prosecuter to prove beyound a reasonable{not shadow stupid learn the law before spouting it} doubt when jurors go to sleep in the middle of the trial. For the others,yes I agree that the majority of Baltimores crime is by blacks. Usually black on black. The simple fact is this is Baltimore,”the city that bleeds”. the blame lies on mommy and daddy who failed miserably in raising these two punks.I say put the kids away and charge the parents with neglect. Most serial killers start with animals,the defensless creatures among us. That’s where these two are headed. As for the race issue,I am a White man living in Randallstown. Most of my nieghbors are black,employed,hard working,family oriented people. Those that aren’t are taken to task by those that are. Some are arrogant and disrespectful even to their own,but we find that in all races. Good parenting and education will stop that,but you can’t force anyone to do right if they don’t chose to. Me personally, I pray for thes two,that they open their eyes and change their lives.Still it’s the cowardice of this jury that is to blame for this outcome.I hope they retry them with good citizens on the jury who take that responsibilty with the wieght it carries.

  • jmo

    They are Black….the naacp and king black guy al sharpton got their back.

  • mike m

    Well the city population in Baltimore is over 80% black so yes most crime in the city is committed by blacks just by virtue of population, period. They are the majority race in the city…so naturally one will see more blacks in jail, more blacks sitting around doing nothing etc. If the city was 80% white you would see more whites in jail, more white drug addicts on the corners etc.
    There are whites and blacks all over this country who take advantage of the system that THEY elect, that never really improves their social situation. Unfortunately some people (black and white) would rather rely on something given to them instead of trying. The impoverished in the city always vote for the same leadership for the last century and besides free handouts, hasn’t gotten many of them out of the situation they are in generation after generation. This goes for anyone sucking off the system. But the system is one the people of MD all vote for every damne time. Nothing will change the way things are run now, Democrat or Republican…it doesn’t matter. Each party has their own special interests and agendas and now of them include actually helping people improve their socioeconomic standing. Once the gov starts giving and not holding people accountable, it shrinks the hard working middle class and doesn’t raise up the lower class…and the gov stays on top just how they like it. It’s a vicious, never ending cycle. The way this country is run transcends race! Come on people, they want us all to fight each other. They want people to rely on gov programs etc etc etc.

  • Gail

    PHOENIX …Means arising,coming back…
    I hope She comes back to haunt those two …
    One Day …hopefully very soon.
    GOD Bless PHOENIX…
    May those two…GO TO HELL ASAP

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