BALTIMORE (WJZ) –  Twin brothers are being retried for allegedly leaving a pit bull to die in the streets of Baltimore. It’s a case being closely watched by animal abuse advocates around the world.

Weijia Jiang has the latest on this high-profile case.

Some of those advocates sat in court all day along. They say a conviction in this case would mean so much more than justice for one dog. It would serve as protection for all animals.

In May 2009, Phoenix the pit bull was set on fire and left to die in the Baltimore streets. She was burned so badly she had to be euthanized.

On Friday, steps toward a new trial started for the 19-year-old twin brothers accused of killing her. Travers and Tremayne Johnson entered the courtroom in shackles. Both are being held on unrelated charges, including drugs, burglary, and attempted murder for Travers.

The brothers have already been tried once before in this case. But the judge declared a mistrial.

The Johnsons’ first trial ended with a hung jury in February. A single holdout could not be convinced they were the ones who started the fire.

But animal welfare advocates pushed prosecutors to try again. Phoenix’s death drew widespread outrage nationwide.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake established an anti- animal abuse task force as a result, the first of its kind in the country. Ann Gearhart is a member.

“We hope that there is a good verdict in the case,” Gearhart said. “But either way, this case has brought enormous attention to animal abuse here in our city. And we’ll be here next week.”

During the pretrial process, the judge ruled defense attorneys will be permitted to call on a new expert witness who will testify about surveillance police video taken at the scene.

Prosecutors argue the two people seen running away from the dog are the Johnsons. The expert will dispute that.

Outside the courthouse, the twins’ mother declined comment on camera, but tells WJZ her boys are innocent.

The judge who also presided over the first trial said the jury pool would usually be about 40 people, but that has nearly doubled because of the high-profile nature of this case. Jury selection begins on Monday

Once the jury is selected, the trial is expected to last four to five days.

Comments (14)
  1. Em says:

    Oh how I’d like to give them a warm and toasty reception! With a gas can and a match! Sickos! If they can harm an innocent animal imagine what else they are capable of doing?!!!!

  2. eddiefast says:

    A couple of ral spear chuckers, couldn’t find their dics with both hands these chimps are soooo stupid.

  3. eddiefast says:

    The judge should sentence them to pick cotton the rest of their lives or work at an SPCA where the dogs watch them.

  4. yousefthe giant says:

    Where’s all the outcry from the black community now? You coons know when the game is up & it’s up for these homies.

  5. disgusted says:

    BBQ these pieces of garbage like they did that poor innocent puppy. I’D like to give them something to laugh about.

  6. Cathy says:

    I agree with all of you but comments like that will not bring that poor dog back,They are already in jail for other charges so we know what kind of people they are,On the other hand they need see what it looks like when a person it gased and set fire,we need to have justice for that poor little one,and let him rest in peace.And yes it is the black community wo is doing this with cats and dogs,need we say more

  7. Stasia says:

    Both have shown from their newest arrest that hurting a dog was just a small bit of the violence inside them. I would like to see them convicted and as part of that conviction have them spend time cleaning the play yard and kennels of abused or abandon Pit Bulls. No one has the right to hurt any animal in any fashion, and they went way too far.

  8. Lisa Morgan says:

    This is getting to be a common theme in the city. I hope they get the maximum sentence. These animals don’t deserve this. Alot of these crimes inflicted on these animals are only misdemenors and 9 times out of 10 the perp only gets slapped with a fine. The laws against animal cruelty need to be alot more strict. I hope this case wakes up alot of these lawmakers so they can see just how tragic this truely is and do something to make sure no animal ever has to go through this and that the perps that do this sort of thing, gets severly punished.

  9. Jeanie Coolahan says:

    Perhaps they should go to jail for the criminally insane; no one with their right mind would ever do this to a poor animal…..the human race is disgusting….

  10. moleman says:

    The city niggas in Baltimore will not convict these two POS. It’s the no snitchin Black moolie way of justice. If these low lifes would open their mouths hundreds of murderers would be given up but they have this code you know cause they’re so honorable. Black trash is all they are.

  11. moleman says:

    This is the type of s…..t I am talking about in Balto & elsewhere. They have no redeeming value whatsoever. So all the outcry about being a racist is pure B.S. & you know it porch monkeys. Straighten up your race before you come on here & call me a racist for speaking the truth.

  12. moleman says:

    These niggas need to be calling the Johnnie Cochran law firm for some Dead on advice.

  13. deandre says:

    Was yall there?NO?If you dont know aobut it DONT SPEAK ABOUT IT

  14. zoro says:

    Deandre, Your kind live in denial, have no sense of morals or responsibility. You want the bling but are too stupid or lazy to stay in school & earn it.

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