Last night as we wrapped up our candlelight vigil for Justice the dog who was lit on fire in Pleasant Grove, the Assistant District Attorney of Dallas pulled event emcee Richard Hunter aside to whisper something in his ear. A moment later, Hunter jumped back onto the stage with an exciting announcement, "Darius Ewing has turned himself in!" His words were met with cheers and applause from the crowd. Ewing is charged with Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals: Torture which is a felony in Texas. The penalty is 2-10 years, and we heard from city officials last night that they would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
This is comforting news in an uncomfortable case.
The vigil was moving, and it's amazing to see so many caring people come together. Speakers included ADA David Alex, Dallas Councilman Tennell Atkins (District 8), Mary Spencer representing for Mayor Mike Rawlings, Judy from Dallas Animal Services, J.P. Bonnelly (local dog trainer and rescuer), Jim Wenger (head of DFW Rescue Me) and yours truly. The turnout was impressive and included Tyron Smith from the Dallas Cowboys and John R. Murrell of the Murrell Foundation who donated to Justice's medical bills and reward money respectively.
This story is particularly hard for me because it jogs memories of my dog Duncan's dreadful beginnings. Four years ago, around 6am a white pick-up truck stopped on my street and left a laundry basket in the middle of the road. My neighbor's dogs began adamantly barking so she went outside to investigate. Inside the basket --bound with a telephone cord-- was a two-month-old Pit/Boxer pup. My neighbor unwrapped the cord, and picked up the dog who was so traumatized she went to the bathroom all over my neighbor's shirt. The next day, I took the puppy to the vet. She was severely malnourished and had worms. She weighed the same as my Miniature Dachshund (13 lbs.) yet was 3x his stature. I had her fixed, got her on meds, and with a daily diet of whole milk/dog food, I beefed her up to her normal weight of 55 lbs. Today, she's healthy, confident, and happy as can be!
Duncan didn't do anything to deserve what happened to her, just as Justice didn't. There are simply evil people who enjoy torturing innocent animals. Darius Ewing didn't act alone. According to the police report, there was a group of guys laughing along as he doused Justice with lighter fluid and threw his lit cigarette on him. Police are still looking for the other suspects who were at Lake June Village Apartments that fateful day. If you have information, please call Crimestoppers at 214.373.8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
We also hope for the maximum penalty if these people are convicted. Many will remember DeShawn Brown's case in 2006 when he stabbed his dog Mercy and set her on fire. He only received four years. You can write to Dallas County DA Craig Watkins to prosecute Darius Ewing and push for the maximum punishment. The address is 133 N. Riverfront Blvd., LB 19, Dallas, Texas 75207.
There is another Darius Ewing in Belton, TX who is receiving some misguided backlash. He posted a rebuttal on his Twitter page- @Darius_Ewing. If you compare his profile picture with the mugshot above, it's clearly not the same fellow. What an unfortunate mix-up.
In closing, I'll offer this for Justice: This metroplex embraces your story, and we are fighting for your justice. Rest in Peace.