Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The family of Darius Ewing, the man accused of killing Justice the puppy, say he is being ufairly accused and that his bond is exceptionally high.
The family of a man accused of torturing and killing a puppy named Justice say the scales of justice are unfairly tilted against him.
Darius Ewing, 18, surrendered to police a week ago on charges of animal cruelty.
He's being held in the Dallas County Jail awaiting trial on a $100,000 bond, an amount his supporters say is far too high for a man with no prior record and for a case of animal cruelty.
"A bond to be set at that is an insult," the Rev. Ronald Wright, of the group Justice Seekers Texas. "It says that dogs are more important when it comes to African-American men."
Animal lovers rallied for the puppy during its fight to survive third-degree burns sustained. Police said the dog was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire with a lit cigarette in front of witnesses on April 4. The dog died April 14.
The case attracted national media coverage, and hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil April 20 at Dallas City Hall, the same night Ewing turned himself in.
"He did not want to go to the police station," said his mother, Kesha Hood. "He was like, 'Why should I go there? I didn't do anything.'"
She said Ewing was at his grandmother's home in Seagoville at the time the puppy was injured in Pleasant Grove.
"I don't think he did anything like this," said his grandmother, Andrea McNeal. "I think he's an animal lover. He likes dogs."
A judge set the bond amount, but the family and civil rights leaders supporting Ewing want the district attorney to seek a reduction.
"We need to challenge this," said the Rev. Marion Barnett. "And in America, you're innocent until proven guilty."
A Dallas County District Attorney's Office representative said the office does not comment on pending cases.
The office confirmed it has received Ewing's case and that it would be considered by a grand jury before it is set for trial.