Judge recuses himself in case of teen accused in puppy's death




Posted on May 10, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 1:57 AM

DALLAS - Tempers flared as today's bond reduction hearing for an 18 year old charged with animal cruelty came to an end with no resolution today.

Judge Rick Magnis recused himself, saying he had personal knowledge about the case against Darius Ewing, of Dallas, before he was assigned to the case. The judge made the announcement to a courtroom full of people divided over the case. The crowd had waited nearly an hour for the bond reduction hearing to begin.

Ewing is accused of lighting a puppy on fire. The dog, named Justice by rescuers, later died from his injuries.

The teen had hoped to have his $100,000 bond reduced this morning at a hearing at the Frank Crowley Court Building. However, the hearing was postponed until a new judge is assigned to the case next week.

Ewing turned himself in to police at a candlelight vigil held days after the 4-month-old Labrador terrier mix died of his injuries. The puppy had burns over 70 percent of his body.

Police said several teens are to blame for what happened to the puppy back on April 4. Witnesses said the teens first tried to hang the puppy with a rope and then set him on fire using lighter fluid and a cigarette at a Pleasant Grove apartment complex.

Bonnie Mathias, with the Animal Shelter Commission for the city of Dallas, said Ewing has not been proven guilty and deserves to get his day in court. Mathias was one of several in the courtroom not convinced Ewing is to blame for the puppy's death.

Ewing's mom, Kesha Hood, was also in the courtroom saying her son is innocent. Hood said he has an alibi and was in Seagoville with family members the week Justice was set on fire.

Jim Wenger, with DFW Rescue Me, said Ewing will get his day in court, but for now should stay behind bars with his bond set at $100,000. Wenger, who spent nearly a week volunteering his time to save Justice before the puppy died of burns, said the young man is a flight risk and has a record worthy of the bond he was given.

Ewing is charged with animal cruelty, which is a felony in Dallas County. The crime is punishable with four to 10 years behind bars.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com