GILBERT 23: Couple accused of violating their probation back in court

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- The owners of a Gilbert pet boarding facility where 23 dogs died in the heat back in 2014 were in court on Thursday, accused of violating their probation.

Jesse and Malesia Hughes have already served 60 days in jail, each, after pleading guilty to animal cruelty. However, many of the victims, the owners of the dogs who died at the Green Acre Kennel, believe the two deserve a steeper jail sentence.

Both of the Hughes denied violating their probations, but their probation officer told the court, in a memo, that the Gilbert couple violated the terms of their respective probation, dozens of times, over the past two years.

"They clearly have no respect for the law, no respect for the media, no respect for their neighbors, no respect for anybody," said John Schill, attorney for the Gilbert 23 victims. "They clearly need to go back to jail."

The Hughes face new accusations of animal neglect, stemming from incidents involving their family's two dogs. Neighbors say the Labrador Retrievers often roamed the streets unleashed and unattended. One was hit and killed by a car last year, and one repeatedly gets stuck in an irrigation ditch. and needs to be rescued.

Although they told the judge they did not violate their probations, court records show a long list of terms the Hughes have allegedly not complied with. According to probation officials, of the 230 hours of community service the two were ordered to perform, each, Jesee has completed zero, and Maleisa has only completed two.

"It was inevitable this was going to happen," said victim Barbara Peraza. Her autistic son's dog, Koda, was one of the 23 that died at the kennel.

"He's got good days and bad days still to this day," said Peraza. "He cannot look at a dog that looks like Koda, or everything comes back. The pain never goes away. No, it doesn't."

Peraza believes the Hughes deserve a harsher punishment than their original sentence.

"These people don't care about the community," said Schill. "They only care about themselves."

Another hearing is scheduled for November 20, where the judge will weigh evidence and testimony, and then make a decision on whether to revoke the Gilbert couple's respective probation, and send them back to jail.

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