Ben Russell, NBC 5 News
Four men accused of setting Justice the puppy on fire earlier this year were in court for a hearing to determine if they would be tried together or separately.
A Dallas County judge has denied motions made on behalf of four men charged with animal cruelty to have separate trials in the case of Justice the puppy.
Justice was a four-month-old Labrador-terrier mix who prosecutors claim was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire on April 4 at a Dallas apartment complex.
Despite efforts to save the animal's life, Justice, who was given the name by members of the animal rescue group DFW Rescue Me, had to be put down by veterinarians nine days later due to the extent of his injuries.
Four men, Adrian Ayers, Darius Carey, Darius Ewing and Richard Valentine, are charged in connection with the case.
Their attorneys argued that one trial for all four men would not be in their best defense, considering each defendant may implicate the other in testimony.
Dallas County Judge Larry Mitchell denied the motions for separate trials Wednesday morning, meaning all four defendants will be tried together.
A trial date has tentatively been set for late Jan., 2013, but scheduling concerns raised in court by investigators from the Dallas County District Attorney's office could push that date back.