• 34°

Accused dog-burners could be on the hot seat

Two suspects in a dog burning case could be granted youthful offender status today.

According to Dallas County District Attorney Ed Greene, Johnnie Lee Bell Jr., 19, and Jonah Justin Edwards, 19, both of Selma, are scheduled to appear before Alabama Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs for a youthful offender status hearing on Wednesday.

Bell and Edwards are facing a cruelty-to-animals charge for the death of Roger and Missy Cook’s dog, Killer, who was found badly burned underneath their house Sept. 29, 2002.

Greene said the state probation and parole field office was ordered in January to complete a youthful offender report on both Bell and Edwards, since both had applied for the status. Those reports have now been completed.

Pauline Cook, a State of Alabama probation officer, said the report will state the defendants’ arrest record, if any, the legal facts of the case, as well as phone interviews with references the defendants provided.

Greene said Meigs will most likely hear testimony from the defense; the prosecution may have Missy Cook and police investigators speak also.

The decision to grant youthful offender status, however, isn’t based on the case, but on the defendants’

background.

According to the district attorney’s office, Edwards is currently on probation for putting a baby in a freezer in North Carolina.

If youthful offender status is granted, Bell and Edwards will be placed on a docket for a trial-by-judge. It’s possible they could immediately plead guilty and receive a maximum sentence of three years.

If youthful offender status isn’t granted, both defendants would be placed on a trial docket. Their maximum sentence would then be 1-10 years.