Jury Hears From Officer Who Tried To Save Dog That Was Set On Fire

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There was powerful testimony in the trial for two brothers accused of setting a pit bull on fire in Baltimore City.

On Friday, the jury heard from the police officer who tried to save the dog’s life.

Weijia Jiang reports.

Jurors heard from the Baltimore police officer who put the flames out on the puppy with her sweater, but the star witness in this case seems to be a city police camera.

When a young pit bull nicknamed Phoenix was doused with gasoline and torched, it was Baltimore police detective Syreeta Teel who put out the flames.

“There were people standing around but nobody was doing anything, so I got out of the car and took my sweater, hitting him, trying to put the fire out,” Teel said.

On Friday, Teel took the stand in the re-trial against 20-year-old twin brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson, who are accused of setting Phoenix on fire in May 2009.

She described the gruesome scene and said the little burning puppy was a puff of smoke.  She said the dog smelled like “burning meat.”  The dog later had to be euthanized.

Teel, the state’s witness, may help the defense.

Attorneys tried to shatter her credibility as an investigator, pointing to Teel’s failure to secure the crime scene, take pictures or record names.

But prosecutors are relying most on police surveillance video from the scene, claiming the Johnsons are seen running away in the tape.

Defense lawyers say it’s too grainy and of poor quality to use as evidence, let alone to identify their clients.

They told jurors “not a single person will say they saw that face, that face on video.”  They also claim their clients are scapegoats. They say “the police had to find someone to blame, needed to quiet the public outcry.  But you cannot convict because it’s convenient.”

Prosecutors will continue to call witnesses next week. The trial is expected to last several more days.

The Johnsons face felony animal cruelty charges.  The maximum penalty is three years in prison.

The brothers have been tried once before in this case, but it ended with a mistrial.  A single hold-out could not be convinced to convict.

  • Marya

    The public have been waiting a long time for justice to be served in this case. We will never forget Phoenix; and can’t help but to pray that not only will the defendants receive the maximum penalty for this horrific crime, but also that animal cruelty laws will hereafter be profoundly strengthened and much more heavily enforced.

  • Rosie

    If someone is capable fo this kind of cruelty to a small puppy.. imagine what they could do to a small child? They are a very real threat to their community and should be placed behind bars and punished to the full extent of the law. The local community should, also, remember their names and faces. If either of these two come looking for a job, service or to purchase goods, ban them from your stablishment.

  • l,young

    Running from an incident that criminates them is too conicidental. If their NOT guilty then they know who did it. Someone has to take responsibility for the action taken and if it weren’t the twins, then identify who did it so they can pay for the crime.

  • anon

    One of the brothers is already awaiting trial for attempted murder. There dangerous dumb inner city kids deserve to be locked up and set on fire themselves. Based on the tattoos I saw they had today in court it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a gang initiation. Hopefully justice is served

  • dave

    Are we gonna lynch these Nuckin Figgers or what?

  • ema careers

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  • taxpayer

    You guys bashing these sweet future taxpayers just need to be more accepting of other cultures. We need to invest money in these young men. Only more handout will solve this problem.

  • cobradon

    If they get off, which will probably be the case with an almost totally black jury against 2 black M-F’;s then they will meet their ends on the streets of Baltimore just as the little pitbull did or maybe even worse. Let’s go vigilante on this one. Does anyone know what a ‘trench sweeper’ is? I do and am an expert with it.

  • urnotfunny

    That poor animal suffered at the hands of 2 inhumane pieces of trash. Brace yourselves, rarely will you get a conviction in the city because of the racial divide.

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