New Trial Begins In Pit Bull Burning Case

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A new trial is underway for twin brothers accused of setting a pit bull on fire on a Baltimore street. Once again, animal advocates are closely watching developments.

Weijia Jiang has the latest in the case.

It’s been nearly three years since the pit bull nicknamed Phoenix was doused with gasoline and set on fire, burned so badly she had to be euthanized.

Baltimore City twin brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson have already been tried once in the case, but last February, it ended with a hung jury. A single hold out could not be convinced to convict the Johnsons.

On Wednesday, the selection process started to find a new set of jurors for a re-trial. Animal welfare advocates are watching closely.

“We hope there is a good verdict in the case but either way, this case has brought enormous attention to animal abuse in the city, and we’ll be here,” Anne Gearheart, an animal advocate, said.

The case led the city to form an anti-animal abuse task force, the first of its kind in the country with Phoenix as its face.

That publicity and widespread outrage is expected to be a challenge in court.

The judge called for a pool with 80 potential jurors– 40 more than usual. He expects many will be disqualified because they already know about what happened.

Once a jury is seated, members will see much of the same evidence during the first trial, including surveillance video defense attorneys tried to have thrown out earlier this week.

The 35-minute tape was critical for prosecutors. It shows clips from a police camera at the scene.

Animal cruelty– a felony –could result in three years in prison.

The trial is expected to last at least a week.

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