BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Two Buffalo teenagers were arraigned in court Wednesday morning, in connection to the burning of a 16-week-old dog named Phoenix.
In court, 19-year-old Adell Zeigler and 17-year-old Diondre Brown, both from Buffalo, were charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals. Ziegler was remanded without bail Wednesday because he has a prior felony and is on parole for robbery. Brown was remanded on $20,000 bail.
Prosecutors say they have strong cases against both teenagers, who they say have violent reputations.
According to NYS law, a person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. "Aggravated cruelty" is conduct which is intended to cause extreme physical pain or is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.
"This is a terrible act of cruelty. One that should never happen at any time" said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Police said Phoenix was found burning on Herman Street last month. Since then detectives have followed every lead. But a break in the case came over the weekend when someone called in a key tip. Authorities arrested Zeigler and Brown late Tuesday night.
PHOTO GALLERY | See images of how hurt Phoenix was in this attack
"Both made admissions to what they did. They said they hung the dog about three feet in the air. They doused him with lighter fluid and we're not sure which one set him on fire," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.
Zeigler's mom didn't want to comment. But Brown's grandmother, Robin did. She said her grandson did not do the crime. She said the night of the incident he told a family member, "You won't believe what my uncle, Adell did."
Robin said, "He kept telling me 'Grandma, I didn't do it.' He says 'Grandma, you know I didn't do it.'" said Robin Brown, the defendant's grandmother. "And the next thing I know they came out and said he signed something saying he did it. So when I went back to talk to him I said 'Why would you do that?' I mean you said you didn't do it."
The men could face up to one-and-one-third to four years in prison. Commissioner Derenda says police have identified the owner of the dog and have taken a statement.
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