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Trial date set in puppy-burning case

Accused dog burner and parole absconder Adell Ziegler on Wednesday waived his right to a jury trial and will face a June 3 bench trial on a felony animal-cruelty count.

A pretrial conference was scheduled for May 16 by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia.

Ziegler’s appearance in court Wednesday was scheduled as a possible plea. But Ziegler decided against pleading guilty after his lawyers’ discussions with the judge about the length of a prison sentence, among other issues, and whether sentences for the alleged cruelty count and parole violation would be served at the same time or one after the other if he is found guilty.

“The defendant at this time is not going to enter a plea,” Buscaglia said in court.

Ziegler is accused of dousing a Jack Russell terrier puppy, since named “Phoenix,” with lighter fluid and setting it on fire in October.

Buscaglia met privately with prosecutors Kristen A. St. Mary and Matthew A. Albert of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys E. Earl Key and Ann Nichols.

If convicted, Ziegler, 19, faces a maximum two-year prison sentence on the animal-cruelty count and also faces time on a parole violation.

Diondre L. Brown, 17, the alleged partner in the puppy-burning, has admitted to acting as a lookout and already pleaded guilty to a felony animal-cruelty charge. His sentencing was postponed Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the puppy, now about 10 months old, has healed nicely at the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital, an official at the hospital said earlier this month.