BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Gut-wrenching opening arguments in the retrial for the Baltimore twin brothers accused of setting a dog on fire then leaving it to die.
Weijia Jiang has more on what the prosecution and defense told the jury.
It sounds like the jurors will hear much of the same evidence and testimony that was presented in the first trial. But those advocates are desperate for a much different outcome.
The second trial against 20-year-old twin brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson is underway. The brothers are accused of dousing a young pit bull nicknamed “Phoenix” with gasoline, then setting her on fire in May 2009. The dog was burned so badly, it had to be euthanized.
The Johnsons’ first trial in the case ended last February with a hung jury and sparked national outrage, partly why it took several hours to seek a new one– nine women and three men who are unfamiliar with what happened.
Legal expert Steven Silverman said the prosecution almost always wins a retrial.
“The prosecutor– in this case, the state of Maryland– learns from the mistakes they made, has probably spoken to the sole juror who hung and they are able to address the concerns of that juror,” he said.
During opening statements, the lead prosecutor told jurors the Johnsons torched the puppy.
Prosecutor Jennifer Rallo said: “Within minutes, the little dog was engulfed in flames, most of her body on fire, screaming, jumping, crying out in pain, left to die in the street.”
But defense attorneys insist the Johnsons are scapegoats and said: “The police had to find someone to blame, needed to quiet the public outcry. But you cannot convict because it is convenient.”
Jurors also watched police surveillance video from the scene. Many had to turn their heads away when it showed images of a burned Phoenix. That video was considered key evidence in the first trial and will likely play a critical role again.
The most serious charge the Johnsons face is animal cruelty, a felony that could send them to prison for three years.