Bond reduced for Dallas man accused of setting puppy on fire




Posted on May 18, 2012 at 7:53 AM

Updated Friday, May 18 at 1:16 PM

WFAA reporter Cynthia Vega is at the hearing and live tweeting from the courtroom from herTwitter account, @cynthia_vega8. We are compiling his tweets into this ongoing blog.

DALLAS - After listening to two hours of testimony, a Dallas County judge agreed to reduce a bond set for a man accused of setting a puppy on fire from $100,000 to $50,000.

The bond reductions for Darius Ewing, 18, was given with several stipulations, including a ruling that the young man would have to undergo random drug tests and wear an ankle bracelet.

The hearing began at 9 a.m. in the 292nd Judicial District Court with Judge Larry Mitchell presiding.

Ewing's attorney called the original bond set at $100,000 was excessive and oppressive.

Keisha Hood, Ewing's mother, took the stand, testifying that she could afford to post his bail if it was set at $1,500. She told the judge Ewing would work for a family member doing janitorial work and would not be a flight risk.

Prosecutors argued that Ewing spent the last four years violating probation and law enforcement. Ewing was arrested when he was 14 on an assault charge. They also argued that Ewing is a danger to society, alleging he is a gang member and has threatened several of his family members with violence.

In the courtroom, every seat was filled. Ewing's immediate and extended family and animal welfare volunteers along with members of the media crowded the courtroom.

During a break in testimony, Rev. Ronald Wright, with Justice Seekers Texas, said he has an issue with how long Ewing has been behind bars with no indictment. He said Ewing's bond was set too high when he hasn't yet been proven guilty.

Jonnie England, with Metroplex Animal Coalition, said the bond the $100,000 bond may have been too high for Ewing's family to afford, but said it sent a strong message about the gravity of the crime committed.

The original hearing had to be rescheduled after the judge at last week's initial hearing recused himself. Judge Rick Magnis announced he had to step aside, having prior knowledge of the case. Magnis said he had spoken to one of the veterinarians who treated the puppy, later named "Justice" by rescuers. That veterinarian reportedly told the judge about the immense pain the dog suffered in the days before he died.

The courtroom was packed with people conflicted about the bond reduction hearing. Ewing's mom told News 8 her son is innocent of the charges against him and that he has an alibi to prove it. Meanwhile, animal welfare volunteers are eager to see justice served.

Ewing is accused of using lighter fluid and a cigarette to light Justice on fire outside a Pleasant Grove apartment complex last month. The 4-month-old Labrador terrier-mix suffered burns over more than 70 percent of his body and died days later of his injuries.

Ewing turned himself in to police as animal welfare volunteers gathered at a candlelight vigil in honor of Justice.

Ewing's charge is a second degree felony. If convicted, he could serve time behind bars.

LIVE TWEETS from Cynthia Vega