PHOENIX - Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio testified at a malicious-prosecution trial that he did not pressure investigators or prosecutors to bring an animal cruelty case against Sen. Jeff Flake's son in the heat-exhaustion deaths of 21 dogs at a kennel.
Arpaio was the first witness to testify in the civil case filed by Austin Flake over his now-dismissed animal cruelty charges.
Flake was taking care of the dogs at the kennel operated by his then-in-laws.
Animal cruelty charges against Flake and his ex-wife were dismissed at the request of prosecutors after an expert determined the facility's air conditioner failed because the operators didn't properly maintain it.
Flake alleges in his lawsuit that Arpaio pursued charges to do political damage to his father and gain publicity for himself, even though Arpaio's Public Information Officer at the time, Chris Hegstrom, called the deaths a "tragic accident", after a dog supposedly chewed through a power cord, knocking out the air conditioning in the 9X12 room, where the dogs were staying.
Arpaio told the jury he did nothing wrong, saying he and his staff did the investigating, and he was not going after Austin Flake because of his familial ties with Sen. Flake.
The trial continues on Thursday.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.