Travers Johnson, one of two brothers recently acquitted of animal cruelty in a Baltimore dog-burning case, pleaded guilty Monday in city Circuit Court to attempted second-degree murder and use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

He was sentenced to 25 years, with all but eight years of the term suspended, and is expected to receive about 14 months' credit for time already served. The 20-year-old has been in custody since his arrest on the attempted-murder charges in December 2010.

According to a statement of facts read aloud by Assistant State's Attorney Noelle Winder, Johnson pulled a black handgun from the waistband of his trousers in October 2010 and fired three shots at a man standing two feet away. The man, whose sister was behind him, was uninjured.

Johnson's attorney, Sharon A.H. May, said her client "essentially has a clean record," with no adult convictions and no juvenile commitments. Johnson was previously charged with gun possession by a minor and twice charged with drug possession, but those cases were dropped by prosecutors.

He and his twin brother, Tremayne Johnson, were out on bail at the time of the shooting. Both were charged with animal cruelty in a separate case that drew national attention.

The brothers were accused of dousing a female pit bull in accelerant and setting her on fire. The dog, nicknamed Phoenix by rescue workers, was burned so badly that she had to be euthanized.

The Johnsons' first trial on those charges ended last year with a hung jury. The retrial, which ended this month, resulted in an acquittal after jurors determined that prosecutors had very little evidence against the brothers.

On Monday, May explained the plea deal in court to Travers Johnson along with the rights he was giving up. When she got to the part about a trial by jury, she added, "and I know that you know what that is."

Tremayne Johnson was charged with marijuana possession shortly after the first animal cruelty trial. He is scheduled to face trial on those charges next month.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

twitter.com/triciabishop

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts