Bond Reduced in Animal Cruelty Case

Bond reduced to $50,000

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Supports of Justice the dog set on fire and killed faced off against supports of Darius Ewing, the man accused of the crime, outside a hearing to reduce his bond.

    A Dallas judge cut bond for a man indicted on charges of animal cruelty in half Friday morning.

    Bail for Darius Ewing, 18, previously was set at $100,000. Ewing is accused of lighting a 4-month-old Labrador-terrier mix on fire.

    The dog, later named Justice, was euthanized because of the severity of his injuries.

    Animal rights activists said the new $50,000 bond is too low.

    Controversy Brews in Justice Bond Case

    [DFW] Controversy Brews in Justice Bond Case
    Darius Ewing, the man accused of setting Justice the puppy on fire will have to wait to see if his bond is reduced because the judge in the case recused himself, but there's more controversy brewing behind the scenes.

    "It's a helpless creature that was tortured, tortured," said Diane Phillips, of Justice for Justice. "We need to let the people know that this will not be tolerated."

    Civil rights activists, who had said the original bond amount was too high, said the new amount was also too high.

    "I still think that $50,000 is ridiculous, because they have yet to present any evidence that this man committed the crime," said the Rev. Ronald Wright, of Justice Seekers Texas. "There were three suspects, where are the other three suspects."

    During Friday's pre-trial hearing, Ewing's family told a judge they could afford $1,500 bond.

    Kesha Hood, Ewing's mother, said at the hearing that her son has grown up since seventh-grade, when he was placed on probation for assaulting another student.

    "He's older and wiser," said Kesha Hood, Ewing's mother.

    But prosecutors painted a different picture of the man. According to state testimony, Ewing allegedly cursed at detectives and refused to surrender for three days and violated his probation when he was minor. They also showed photos from his Facebook page that show support for gangs.

    "It's nothing more than pictures, and he has no evidence that anything more has taken place," defense attorney Kenneth Weatherspoon said.

    Hood said her son's probation was doubled to a year because he didn't follow a judge's order.

    "He wasn't abiding by the rules," she said.

    The state argued against reducing the bond, saying that Ewing would not play by the rules again if he is released from jail.

    "It's all up to him, and his history shows you that went he doesn't want to follow the rules, he doesn't," prosecutor David Alex said.

    Ewing's mother said her son would live with her and do janitorial work if he's released on bond.

    In the past, Wright said the original $100,000 bond was too high and put more value on the life of a dog than the life of a black man. He said he now plans to lead a community-wide effort to raise the money for Ewing's bail.

    But Ewing's uncle said his nephew may be safer in jail.

    ""The racial comments I've been looking at -- hundreds of comments I've been looking at -- I believe he would be better off," Fred Ewing said.

    At the end of Friday's hearing, prosecutor David Alex said a grand jury had indicted Ewing on the animal cruelty charges.

    A trial date has not been set. If convicted of animal cruelty, Darius Ewing would face up to 10 years in prison.

    NBC 5's Kendra Lyn and Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.