A Buffalo man involved in setting a Jack Russell terrier on fire last fall received a six-month jail sentence Friday. But given the time Diondre Brown already served during his prosecution, he was expected to be released from custody soon after his court appearance.
Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case also sentenced Brown, 18, to five years’ probation and forbade him from owning or harboring any animals for five years.
Brown spoke only a few words in court but apologized for what happened Oct. 29 in a yard off Herman Street.
The judge called the case “extremely disturbing and appalling” but found Brown to be remorseful.
“I hope that this has served as a wake-up call for you,” Case told Brown.
Authorities arrested Brown and Adell Ziegler, 19, – who is Brown’s uncle – last fall on felony animal cruelty charges for dousing the terrier with lighter fluid and setting it on fire.
The dog, since named Phoenix, suffered burns on 50 percent of its body but has been recovering.
Before his sentencing, Andrew C. LoTempio, Brown’s defense lawyer, told the judge that Brown had been taking care of the dog and that it was Ziegler who set it on fire – accounts supported by neighbors.
During the incident, Brown was crying and telling Ziegler to stop, and then he ran away when he heard the police were called, LoTempio said.
Assistant District Attorney Kristin St. Mary acknowledged Brown’s cooperation in the case.
She said he had a “limited role” in the incident.
Brown had pleaded guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge.
LoTempio asked the judge for compassion.
“This young man has a lot of baggage in his background,” he said.
Brown has suffered from psychological problems and post-traumatic stress since he witnessed his mother executed in her Koons Avenue home in 2005, LoTempio said.
Brown testified at the trial of the two men convicted of murdering his mother, Tonisha Brown, 26, as well as his uncle Robert “Little Man” Brown on the night of April 23, 2005.
“People seemed to have missed sight of the fact he’s a person, and there may be an explanation why he did this,” LoTempio said outside the courtroom.
“From the get-go, he’s been very tearful and remorseful when the dog is brought up,” LoTempio said.
Brown is expected to be released to his grandmother, LoTempio said.
Ziegler, meanwhile, is scheduled to be sentenced June 14.
Last month, Ziegler pleaded guilty to felony aggravated cruelty to animals for his role in the puppy burning.
But Ziegler denied lighting the puppy on fire. Ziegler accused Brown of lighting the puppy on fire.
“My co-defendant lit the dog on fire, and I was present,” Ziegler said at his April 29 plea hearing.