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Teens accused in dog burning appear in court

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Families of the two young men charged with setting a puppy on fire are feuding about who is responsible, even as the criminal justice system is moving their cases along.  17-year-old Diondre  Brown waived a felony hearing yesterday and the case now goes to a grand jury. 19-year-old Adell Zeigler showed up without a lawyer.  He must return for another court appearance before the case can move forward.

Both teens are facing charges of felony aggravated cruelty to animals and are being held without bail.

Brown's defense lawyer Andrew LoTempio said it's a tough case.  LoTempio said Brown witness the murder of his mother and has had a series of mental health problems.

"I understand that the public is anybody should be outraged at the charges.  However, Mr. Brown has had a horrible, horrible life and his background is very, very sad," said LoTempio.  "I'm very familiar with it.  I represented the man who was convicted of killing his mother in front of him.  So, he's got a lot of issues and a lot of problems."

Both are being held without bail.  They are charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and are being held without bail.  Brown and Zeigler face jail time but Detective Charles Militello says the sentences should be longer.

Arkeyla Copeland, Zeigler's mother, appeared at Buffalo City Court Monday and told reporters her son suffer from mental health issues. 

"They both have mental health issues.  They both committed this crime together.," said Copeland. "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, cause they both did it together."

The teens are accused of dousing the dog with lighter fluid on October 29.  The Jack Russell Terrier continues recovery at  the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital and faces several more surgeries. 

Last week, following the arrests Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda would not provide a motive.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.