Gilbert 23 case: Attorneys want to get some charges tossed

FOX 10's Andrew Hasbun reports.

- They're accused of animal abuse in the deaths of more than 20 dogs. Now the owners of the Gilbert boarding facility where those dogs died want some of the charges thrown out.

Their attorneys asked the judge to dismiss a couple of the animal abuse charges, but prosecutors and victims are fighting back.

Todd and Maleisa Hughes have been charged with fraud and more than 20 counts of felony animal abuse. A few of those charges are for failing to render aid to some of the dying dogs. Their attorney tried to convince the judge to throw those charges out.

After discovering nearly two dozen dead and dying dogs in a 9 x 12 room, attorneys claim the two watching over the boarding house did what they could to save the animals.

"We are talking about a triage situation. Where they were trying to help the dogs that were still alive," said the Hughes' attorney, Garrett Smith.

But prosecutors argued against dismissing the charges and the owners of the dogs believe more should have been done.

"Wouldn't your first instinct be to immediately call for help or call the owners the at least? Obviously they were trying to hide something here," said Shannon Gillette, who lost two dogs.

Attorneys for the Green Acre boarding house owners also point out that Todd and Maleisa Hughes were out of town when they claim the air conditioning went out in the room where all those dogs were staying.  They had left their daughter and son-in-law, Austin and Logan Flake, in charge. They are not facing any criminal charges.

"You have to also acknowledge the fact that the people that are being charged here are not the Flakes, but the people that are being charged here were thousands of miles away at a volleyball tournament with their daughter.  It just doesn't make a lot of sense to say that it is criminal and that they should have done something more," said Smith.

An attorney for the dogs' owners, John Schill, said, "That is a question for the jury. Did they break the law? That is what the jury decides and that is why this case should go to the jury."

The judge did not make a decision on Friday, but he has another major ruling to make. The Hughes' attorney wants the case sent back to the grand jury for a third time.  The judge is expected to rule on both soon.

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