No justice for Phoenix? A mistrial was declared tonight in the case of the fatal burning of a young dog in Baltimore in 2009 who became the face of animal cruelty across the nation.
The jury had deliberated two and a half days and was unable to reach a verdict. Tremayne and Travers Johnson, who were 17 at the time of the incident, had been indicted on charges of animal cruelty. The Baltimore Sun reports that jurors were unable to convince one holdout. A decision to retry the case is up to the Baltimore state's attorney who because of a gag order could not comment.
The horrific case of the young pit bull doused with accelerant and set ablaze in front of a group of people on an inner city street sparked national outcry and the led to the creation of an anti-animal abuse task force. Ohmidog blog reports the commission's report found the city's response to animal abuse to be inadequate - a finding, ohmidog points out, that the trial of the Johnsons seemed to reinforce. Defense attorneys repeatedly pointed out flaws in the investigation and crime scene was not secured or documented properly.
A Baltimore police officer who was hailed as a hero for throwing her sweater on the dog to put out the flames, apparently failed to secure the scene, leaving openings for the defense to question the investigation.
The dog, nicknamed Phoenix, was brought to Metropolitan Veterinary Associates in Norristown for critical care treatment through the generosity of Main Line Animal Rescue, but she later succumbed to her wounds. She is buried at the rescue's picturesque farm in Chester County.
A note about the miracle workers at Metropolitan ,which serves so many emergency and critical care cases in the Philadelphia area each day. The vet hospital made news last week in The Pottstown Mercury, which profiled the practice on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The hospital now has 24 veterinarians who work in ten specialty areas, including oral surgery and ophthalmology. In addition to the private pets, they have saved the lives of many of the victims of the worst cases of puppy mill neglect and cruelty through their relationship with Main Line Animal Rescue.