THB, Banditos, Wayward and more confirmed for Cosmic Cocktail!

Police surveillance video allowed in Phoenix case

A police surveillance video that was key evidence in the 2011 mistrial of Travers and Tremayne Johnson, accused of setting a pit bull on fire, will be presented to jurors in the brothers' retrial, a judge ruled Monday. Defense attorneys had sought to have the tape thrown out.

An expert witness brought in by prosecutors said the video is of higher quality than many other surveillance tapes used in court, with twice as many frames per second as similar tapes. Distortions in the video that defense lawyers attacked are common and can be the result of many factors, Douglas Lacey, a forensic video analyst, said in court.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Emanuel Brown said any distortions don't disqualify the tape from being used as evidence, as defense attorney Andrew Northrup had argued. But they could affect the weight the video will carry with jurors, he warned.

The tape was central to the case prosecutors Jennifer Rallo and Janet Hankin laid out in the original trial. But it left one juror unconvinced that the suspects, now 20 years old, were guilty of dousing the pit bull with an accelerant and lighting it on fire in West Baltimore.

The 35-minute video shows portions of the events surrounding the May 27, 2009, attack on the young female pit bull, which was named Phoenix by rescue workers and euthanized three days later. It was filmed from a camera installed atop a 30-foot pole as part of the police's CitiWatch program.

Brown ruled that a gas can used as evidence in the first trial be thrown out for the retrial, however. Prosecutors had attempted to link it to the Johnsons but neither fingerprints nor DNA from either brother were found on it.

Jury selection is slated for Wednesday. Because the case has attracted extensive media attention, Brown said he expects to select at least 20 alternate jurors.

The trial is scheduled to end April 5.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad