DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It was one of the worst cases of animal cruelty known to have happened in North Texas. This past April, a 4-month old puppy was set on fire and left to die. Today the four suspects in the animal torture case were back before a judge.
Adrian Ayers, Darius Carey, Darius Ewing and Richard Valentine are the men accused of dousing a dog, later named “Justice”, with lighter fluid and setting the animal of fire.
Veterinarians with the animals advocate group DFW Rescue Me tried to keep the puppy alive. The group gave the male puppy the name Justice in memory of another dog that was set on fire in the Pleasant Grove area three years before.
The brindle-and-white colored dog suffered both second-degree and third-degree burns to 60-percent of his body — mostly on the legs, back and face. Initially Justice showed progress in his healing, but the lab-terrier mix didn’t survive and died nine days after the attack.
The suspects in the animal cruelty case were in Dallas Wednesday at the Frank Crowley Courthouse. The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the four defendants should be tried together, or separately. All four defendants were present when Judge Larry Mitchell denied motions to severe the trial.
Defense attorneys had argued that when the trial begins there could be conflicting testimony from the defendants. The judge disagreed and denied each attorney’s severance request.
It was on April 4 that the men are accused of hanging and burning Justice. The incident happened at the Lake June Village apartment complex in Pleasant Grove.
A police report said the burning dog began darting around the courtyard, but a woman was able to catch him and smother the flames with a shirt. The puppy was later found hiding behind an air conditioning unit.
DFW Rescue Me has the case high on their Facebook page right now. The group is encouraging people to attend the hearing and offer support to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and their fight against animal cruelty.
After Justice passed away animal rights advocates held a vigil for the puppy at Dallas City Hall.
Each man faces the felony charge of Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals: Torture. Since the suspects in this case used a deadly weapon they face punishment ranging from two to 10 years in jail.
The trial for the 4 men has been set for March 18.
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