Gilbert 23 case: Owners of kennel where dogs died from heat plead not guilty

The couple at the center of the Gilbert 23 dog deaths case was back in court Wednesday after prosecutors filed new charges against them last month.

Both 32-year-old Jesse Todd Hughes and  45-year-old Maleisa Maurine Hughes pleaded not guilty for a second time and their attorney says they expect to be vindicated, but the owners of the dogs hope for something else entirely.

Jacqueline and Cary Heath left Superior Court hand in hand, exhausted from the ongoing hearings surrounding the deaths of their three dogs, but relieved that it's not over.

"No, it's worth going through it again and we want there to be justice for the dogs that we lost and the other people's dogs.. it's worth going through it again, said Jacqueline.

The Heaths sat in court as the Hughes pleaded not guilty.  The owners of the Green Acre boarding facility in Gilbert were indicted a second time this past May after the initial charges were dropped last December.  Both face 29 charges, which include 21 felony charges, seven misdemeanor abuse charges and one count of fraudulent schemes.

"If we hadn't been lied to and deceived leading up to the point of the dogs' death, I think that it would have been completely different.. no more than six dogs.. the cage free facility.. not the 30, 40.. who knows how many dogs were truly there," said Cary.

A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office investigation concluded the dogs died of overheating after being left in a 9' x 12' room that had a power outage.  

The Hughes claim a dog chewed through a power cord for the air conditioning.  Their attorney, Robert Jarvis, says his clients will continue to fight the charges as they did before, calling it a tragic accident in which the Hughes will be vindicated in the end.

A status hearing has been set for the Hughes 8:15 a.m. on July 15th.

The dogs were under the care of the Hughes' daughter, Logan and her husband, Austin Flake when the animals died.  Austin is the son of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.  Charges against Logan and Austin were dropped last December and there are currently no known plans to re-file.
Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories