DALLAS – Four men accused of setting a dog on fire in a Pleasant Grove apartment complex last April will be tried together, a Dallas County judge determined Wednesday.
Darius Ewing, Darius Carey, Richard Valentine and Adrian Ayers are all facing charges for dousing a four-month-old puppy with lighter fluid and setting it ablaze. Wednesday's hearing, held in the 292nd District Court, was to determine whether the four would be tried at once or separately.
Justice the dog died 10 days after the attack. Animal activist Jonnie England was in the audience for Wednesday's court hearing.
"You don't have to be an animal lover or have a lot of dogs or cats to be horrified by this crime," England said outside the courtroom. "The implications that if someone can do this to a little puppy, what might this person do to a child a child, a total stranger, now or in the future?"
England works with the Texas Humane Alliance and was among those who saw Justice before he died. Burns covered 70 percent of the Labrador’s body.
Attorneys representing the defendants argued to have them face trial individually, but Judge Larry Mitchell denied their requests. Richard Valentine's attorney, Calvin Johnson, spoke to reporters following the hearing.
"I can't comment on what’s actually going to come out, because it hasn't happened yet. The only thing we were trying to do is separate them so that everybody could have their day separately from the other defendants. That's all we were trying to do,” Johnson said.
The case is set for trial on January 28.
"It's a difficult situation," Johnson said. "It's unfortunate for everybody, It's unfortunate for the animals. It's unfortunate for the client and the community. This is just something we are going to deal with."