Two teens accused of setting a Jack Russell Terrier puppy on fire on the city's east side last month appeared in a Buffalo City Courtroom on Monday. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the case and what attorneys say could have led to the puppy's tragic injury.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — As Phoenix continues to recover in the care of a foster family, family and attorneys painted a picture of the two teens accused of setting the puppy on fire while outside a Buffalo City Courtroom Monday.
"His mother died, my son's father passed,” Arkeyla Copeland, 19-year-old Adell Zeigler’s mother said. “So, they both have mental health issues; they both committed this crime together."
Attorney Andrew LoTempio said that despite the troubled past of his client, 17-year-old Diondre Brown, he understands the public outrage surrounding the case.
"There's no excuse, it's an explanation for why and how someone gets to the point where they might do something like this," LoTempio said. “"He's been in and out of group homes, he's emotionally disturbed. He’s mentally retarded, he's got post-traumatic stress syndrome, he's actually a sad case."
Zeigler and Brown are accused of burning the four-month-old Jack Russell Terrier last month.
"It's sickening,” Buffalo Police Det. Marvin Sanford said. “You have to look into the mind frame of someone who would do this to anything, whether it's a human or an animal."
Both are charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and could face a maximum two year sentence. Brown's attorney waived his right to a felony hearing, sending his case to a grand jury. Zeigler was without an attorney Monday afternoon, though Copeland maintains he and his nephew are equally responsible.
"It wasn't no one did more than the other, they should both get the same amount of time; one shouldn't get off lesser than the other because they both did it together,” she said.
An update from the city’s animal shelter shows Phoenix is getting stronger by the day.
Zeigler is due back in court at the end of the week.