Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19624
Classification: Burning - Fire or Fireworks
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Defense(s): Tricia Perry
Judge(s): Larry Mitchell

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Monday, Apr 2, 2012

County: Dallas

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 1 files available

Alleged: Darius Ewing

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Dallas police said Friday night that an 18-year-old wanted in an attack on a puppy that died after it was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire had turned himself in.

News of the arrest came while several hundred North Texans were gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of the dog, Justice. The master of ceremonies returned to the stage to announce the arrest, and the crowd erupted in cheers.

Justice was burned alive April 2. Dallas police had issued a warrant for the arrest of 18-year-old Darius Ewing. He surrendered to police Friday night.

The dog died Sunday of complications from the third-degree burns that covered 70 percent of his body.

Witnesses told police Ewing doused the dog in lighter fluid and then threw a lit cigarette on him.

The Dallas County district attorney's office said it was thrilled to announce the arrest during the vigil for Justice.

"The timing was great," said David Alex, a special prosecutor in the district attorney's office. "Hopefully, a lot of it had to do with the pressure from the community to do the right thing."

Animal cruelty is a felony. If convicted, Ewing faces two to 10 years in prison.

Case Updates

A bond was reduced from $100,000 to $50,000 on Friday morning in a hearing for 18-year-old Darius Ewing, who is accused of setting fire to a puppy in April 2012. His mother Kesha Hood testified in the 292nd Judicial Court that she believed a fair bond would be $1,500, which caused one visitor of the courtroom to gasp. At the end of the three-hour hearing, Judge Larry Mitchell cut the bond in half, saying that if Ewing pays to get out of jail, he would be required to remain in his home.

Fred Ewing, Jr., Darius' uncle, told Pegasus News that the lowered bond is not good enough. "I think it's unfair ... it's like finding him guilty before he has his day in court," he said. Fred Ewing says he believes his nephew is not guilty of throwing a cigarette on Justice, who later died from burns to 70% of his body. "It's a horrific crime. Whoever did it should be punished," Fred Ewing said. "[Darius] has an alibi."

Animal lovers packed the courtroom for the hearing, many wearing purple "Justice for Justice" shirts underneath their clothing. The abused puppy was mentioned very little during the hearing Friday morning; prosecuting attorneys instead fixated on Ewing's character, showing photos of his Facebook page with he and friends throwing apparent gang signs.

Jim Wenger, the animal rescuer with DFW Rescue Me who took in Justice before he died, said he was disappointed that Ewing's bond was cut in half. "A lot of things came out to show he doesn't have respect for himself, in my opinion, or for authority," said Wenger. "I do think he's a huge flight risk."

Many of the animal supporters were concerned that Ewing's bond would be lowered like it was in Mercy the dog's case, when DeShann Brown's bond was dropped from $50,000 to $2,500, and he was able to get out of jail on $250. The case with Justice the puppy seems to be held to a higher standard, said Jonnie England, director of Animal Advocacy and Communications for the Metroplex Animal Coalition.

"I'm OK with this," she said. "I think $50,000 is a good compromise. It shows the court understands the violent nature of this crime."

Fred Ewing said he and his family members will probably be able to pay to get his nephew Darius out of jail, but Fred said he hadn't decided what to do next. "I believe he's in the right place" -- meaning in jail, Fred said -- because of threats made against Darius.
Source: Pegasus News
Update posted on May 18, 2012 - 7:36PM 
This morning, local animal advocates sat one narrow aisle away from the family of Darius Ewing inside the 283rd Judicial District Court. Ewing, 18, is charged with the death of Justice, a four-month-old puppy who was set on fire. Ewing is currently in Dallas County Jail on $100,000 bond. His attorney, Tricia Perry, filed a Motion to Reduce Bond after Ewing's family contested the amount.

Reverend Ronald Wright of Justice Seekers Texas has spoken on behalf of Ewing, saying the bond was set too high. In his words, "It says that dogs are more important when it comes to African-American men."

The hearing was set to start at 9am. After nearly an hour of waiting, Judge Rick Magnis announced that he had to recuse himself from the hearing because he had "personal knowledge of the case" before it was assigned to him. Apparently, he knows one of the veterinarians who treated Justice. It is going be rescheduled as soon as next week.

After the announcement, people streamed into the hallway where a verbal conflict broke out between Bonnie Matthias (Dallas Animal Shelter Commission) and a group from DFW Rescue Me including Jim Wenger, Richard Hunter, and other volunteers. Ironically, Matthias was defending Darius Ewing.

We'll keep you posted on the new hearing date. As a reminder, the public is welcome to attend to show support for Justice and send a message to the judge that this violent act is indeed worthy of a high bond. The 283rd Judicial District Court is on the 6th floor of the Frank Crowley Courts Building- 133 N. Riverfront in Dallas. Business attire is required.

As a community, we will still seek justice for Justice.
Source: CBS Local
Update posted on May 11, 2012 - 3:20PM 


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