BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Justice for Phoenix. That’s what animal advocates have been calling for in the case of a pit bull set on fire. 

Suzanne Collins explains the trial of two brothers for animal cruelty ended in a mistrial this week, but that won’t stop prosecutors. They announced Friday they will retry the twins.

The puppy was intentionally torched. Her burns and injuries were so severe she ultimately had to be put to sleep.

It’s a case that infuriated the public and led to the trial of Travers and Tremayne Johnson on charges of animal cruelty. But a deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial on Monday.

Now the state’s attorney has just announced he will try again and re-prosecute this high-profile case.

“We are very excited they are going to retry,” said Jennifer Brause, BARCS executive director. “It shows [we] have a great case, support. [It’s the] right thing to do. We’re beyond thrilled.”

Jurors in the first trial say 11 of them wanted to convict the twins even though police camera video was grainy and the evidence circumstantial. They say one juror held out for acquittal.

A new trial is now scheduled for May 4.

Many animal advocates attended the first trial, saying they did that to show they wanted justice for Phoenix.

The state’s attorney says he cannot comment on his reasons for deciding to retry the case because a gag order is in place.

Comments (45)
  1. Laurel says:

    They will get a fair trial because no one will stand up the rights of animals anywhere…grow up people….I would love to be on that jury, move it to my County!

  2. samantha says:

    Wooo Hooo, Thank you for getting justice for phoenix….Literally speaking it’s your time to fry…

    1. secret says:

      White people have abused animals for many years openly so before you people want black people to burn,you guys should think about what you have done also. So you all can fry too! There are many ethnic backgrounds that kill dogs and monkeys etc do they. Burn too? Answer me that.

      1. Nancy Fisher Pritchett says:

        whats race got to do with it,they are sick MF’rs and i think someone should give an eye for an eye and lite a match to there hair and tie there hands behind there backs.Race has nothing to do with freaking Ignorance!!

      2. Melissa says:

        Not to mention the all those black men lynched by whites for fun out of hate. When will justice be served for that?

      3. shivette holmes says:

        You are assuming everyone leaving a comment is white? No evidence to that either. You are right about other animal abuses in the past, and i hope they were dealt with accordingly. Do you really want these two men on the strreets? It is a fact that animal abusers turn to murderous crimes against people.

  3. Shannon says:

    The dog didn’t get a fair deal either!!!!!!!!!!!! Who cares about these two thugs!

    1. marsha says:

      You’re accusing people of something they may or may not have done without any evidence.
      If the only evidence they have is a grainy video tape that may or may not be the suspects, they should be acquitted. The burden of proof is on the prosecution and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
      All I see here in these comments are a bunch of people who would be shaking in their boots if they were in the shoes of these two men and didn’t commit the crime and everyone was calling for their heads.
      We must maintain the fairness of our court system for ‘ourselves and our posterity’.

      1. urnotfunny says:

        Marsha – So…..are you saying the evidence they did have means nothing?

      2. DOGMA says:


      3. Dog Lover says:


        They have more than just a “grainy” videotape which BTW is clear enough to see these two criminals running from the scene of the crime. They also have their clothing containing gasoline which matches the gasoline doused on this poor defenseless puppy, along with WITNESSES! What more do you need……..

        Let’s not forget the POS who spit at the WJZ-TV camera while being taken away by the police in shackles and handcuffs into a paddy wagon for incarceration on attempted murder charges of A HUMAN BEING, NOT AN ANIMAL…..and the other POS thug who ALSO has a long criminal record!!

        You bet I would be “shaking in my boots if I were in the shoes of these two men”, but NOT for being innocent of their long history of crimes, BUT THEIR GUILT!!!!


        PLUS, 11 out of 12 jurors IMMEDIATELY VOTED GUILTY, so apparently there was ENOUGH CLEAR EVIDENCE SEEN/HEARD BY THESE JURORS TO FIND THESE THUGS GUILTY!! The ignorant one lone juror was probably one who fell asleep during court proceedings, OR wanted some type of notoriety, OR was afraid of juror intimidation!


        Unless you’ve been living in a cave since May, 2009, THEN YOUR COMMENTS ARE RIDICULOUSLY IGNORANT!!


      4. Joseph UncleJoey Brown says:

        marsha these clown’s will never understand… they love animals more than negro’s…. would luv to say ni@@a’s… they lay in coffins tryin to look black, but hate black ppl… look what they did to vic. i’m not saying burning a dog is right anny way… but we eat chickens, cows, pigs, frogs, ducks, turkey’s…. etc etc. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE FOR ALL THE ANIMALS UR RACIST AZZ EATS….

      5. Melissa says:

        Marsha,,,my thought exactly. Well said. Never run to immediate judgement; be objective regardless of emotion.

      6. Nancy Fisher Pritchett says:

        no the dog caught on fire by its self ,this post is retatrded

  4. DOGMA says:

    time to pay the piper

  5. Bc Icedog says:

    CONGRATULATIONS BALTIMORE! Animal abuse is linked to all serious crime particularly crimes against women and children. Animals are on the frontline for domestic disputes. Teens who commit these kinds of crimes have a serious psychiatric disorder called Conduct Disorders. Adults who commit these crimes have anti-social personality disorders. Both are a serious threat to society.
    If the Jurors fall asleep this time DISQUALIFY THEM IMMEDIATELY – It is time for a Wake Up Call Anyone who could commit this crime is a threat to the safety of the community. Don’t get them off- get them help!

    1. hatingAZ says:

      Very well written good use of the DSMIV thank you

  6. urnotfunny says:

    The fact that this case is being tried again shows the animal abusers that at least there is a fight now and it’s not just pushed to the side. Not that I think an abuser cares that much, but hopefuly it’ll make them think a little.

  7. Gina Ciofani says:


  8. Heather says:

    This is so great to hear !!!!! Lets get these thugs off the streets and justice for Pheonix !!!!!!!!!!

    P.S. In your face RON !!! i hope they catch you at one of your dog fights next.

  9. Carrie Hunter Skupinsky says:

    Gee Dad…If the twins didn’t want “publicity” getting in the way of their charmed life of dropped charges, maybe they should have stuck with their quiet, petty crimes of drugs and weapons and not have, oh, set a dog on fire in the middle of the street? And then not later get arrested on assault and attempted murder? These are thugs, plain and simple, and Phoenix was one of a score of their victims in their dog fighting lifestyle. I say convict them, jail them, and sweat them to break up one of Baltimore’s many dog fighting rings. Justice for Phoenix.

  10. C.eyler says:

    This is why the world is the way it is, going down the tubes. There is know more justice! Let the twins take thier just due punishment. Maybe a roast so they know how it feels to in-flick pain on a defenseless animal.

  11. Amanda Plaine says:

    way to go Bernstein finally maybe poor Phoenix and all mistreated and abused pitbulls will get the justice they deserve I hope two cowards get what they deserve

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Heather (and anyone else who knows of these disgusting crimes) I am assuming Ron is these disgusting excuse for a humans’ father, but I think everyone around needs to open their eyes and if you see anything suspicious or know where it’s occurring, you need to report it. It can all be done anonymously. But you can’t wait, you have to make the call, please don’t count on someone else doing, if everyone thinks that way it just promotes more violence and senseless pain and torture to these helpless animals. We are their only voice and IT’S TIME PEOPLE IN BALTIMORE (AND ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY) TOOK A STAND AND STARTED SPEAKING FOR THEM!!

    I am very pleased to this is going to be retried. I hope they don’t get anymore holdouts as jurors who are probably friends with these people. The evidence is there, how you can go how at night and sleep after taking their side is unimagineable to me.

  13. Amanda Plaine says:

    @ concerned citizen Ron is a person who kept posting awful ignorant racist things on here yesterday basically he said he liked dog fights and that only white people like dogs and blah blah blah, but you’re 100% correct. i agree wholeheardtly agree with you iI just hope justice will finally be done

  14. Bern McLellan Pervis says:

    I am not one to make an example of pple but please these kids deserve to time for what they did for this pup. BEFORE they graduate to doing the same to people.

  15. ravenmaniac881 says:

    Thank god we have a new State’s Attorney in Baltimore. Patricia Jessamy would have let these two POS walk and never look back. She may have even had that worthless Public Information Officer Margaret Burns give tham a ride home and a free happy meal. good for Baltimore city…finally some justice is coming to town.

    1. pah says:

      Unforunately,the maximum sentence would be 3 years….probably out on good behavior in 6 months. Definitely not long enough for these jungle monkeys. Hopefully someone will “get” them if they are incarcerated. And if not, then maybe someone will douse them with gasoline and throw a match. I would love to be at that bonfire.

  16. Anthony says:

    Let this be a WARNING to all who abuse animals,we will fight to the end for justice…forever!!!!

  17. Mike Tyrone says:

    NOW!!! Let’s hunt down those people who were responsible for setting that Mother Cat on fire the other day. LET’S GET THEM ALL!!!!!

  18. TiredOfTheAbuse says:

    Regardless this Ghetto town and its Ghetto citizens get away with animal cruelty everyday. Yeah i said it and im sick of it…GROW UP BALTIMORE !!!!

  19. Kathryn says:

    Unfortunately there is no punishment that really fits this heinous crime. The world will be better off with those two in jail, preferably forever.

  20. justin gaven says:

    Unless those twins turn their lives around, they’re going to do a little burning themselves once they leave this world. Phoenix is back with the Lord; those twins Will feel her pain.

  21. Ellen Moore says:

    I can’t believe that they couldn’t come up with a Guilty Plea. This poor innocent dog was put on fire, and I guess these two thought it was funny. The camera saw them running from the scene, why weren’t police called to find them. WE SHOULD PUT A BILLBOARD UP ON 95 AND HAVE IT SAY” COME TO BALTIMORE AND SET AN INNOCENT CAT OR DOG ON FIRE. MY GRANDMOTHER WOULD SAY ” I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY GOT AWAY SCOTT FREE. I wonder if these two can sleep at night. I am sorry that Phoenix had to suffer like that, but I know he is in a better place, where no one can hurt him anymore.

  22. wyoming says:

    And people wanna call the pitbulls vicious!! what a joke…theyll get off just like Michael Vick did and the only reason he is sorry is cause he got caught!!

  23. Cristle says:

    I want to thank the new State’s Attorney for having the integrity and the guts to do the right thing. These young men committed a horrible, unthinkable, disgusting act against a defenseless puppy. They deserve to rot in jail for the remainder of their supped, pathetic, lives. One has already been charged with attempted murder. What more would you like them to do before someone thinks they are dangerous enough to get them permanently of the streets? The only one I feel sorry for is Phoenix. He is the ONLY victim here. If it were up to me, there would be automatic capital punishment for any abuse of an animal including chaining it in a backyard, not feeding it properly, not providing clean water or adequate shelter. It would go without saying that we should do away with anyone who thinks it is OK to torment, hit, abuse, electrocute, stab, kick, or injure an animal in any cruel and inhumane way. I am praying for justice for Phoenix, although the sentence that is available under the current law in no way is adequate for the crimes these young men committed against a helpless beautiful puppy. I believe that people like these twins continue to commit crimes such as these because the risk of punishment is so low and even when they are punished the punishment is less than a slap on the wrist. Start passing laws that make these crimes a felony with a minimum 10 year sentence in a hard labor prison and see how these idiots shape up. Right now I think good people should all feel scared.

  24. Judycee says:

    I agree with Cristle. I thank State’s Attorney Bernstein for re-trying this case. One thing that seems to be a recurring theme is the “grainy” video evidence. Don’t forget that these 2 men have criminal records, the police are therefore very familiar with them. They know their body language and what they look like. There was gasoline on both of their clothing. For me, it is not a black or white iissue. It’s about the horrific, senseless destruction of a living thing, a domestic animal, a puppy. And it needs to stop. Yes, we do slaughter farm raised animals and fish for food. Yes, we do hunt. Cultures around the world have been doing that for centuries. And I would hope that at least in this country it would be a humane end. It’s not my way, and I choose to stay vegetarian. But we don’t set them on fire to burn them to death.

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