PHOENIX, Ariz. (DECEMBER 2, 2014) – Husband and wife Austin and Logan Flake have filed three significant motions in the criminal case, State of Arizona v. Hughes, et al. (CR2014-002799-003 and 004): a motion to remand to the grand jury for a new finding of probable cause, a motion to dismiss and a motion to sever their case from that of Jesse Todd Hughes and MaLeisa Maurine Hughes, owners of Green Acre Boarding in Gilbert.
“The Sheriff’s Office not only withheld crucial and exculpatory evidence from the grand jurors, the Sheriff’s chief investigator repeatedly provided false testimony about evidence that would have cleared Austin and Logan of felony and misdemeanor charges,” said Dennis I. Wilenchik, their attorney.
Austin and Logan, who were in Utah attending college last summer, traveled to Arizona for a week to take care of the dogs that were boarded at Green Acre while the Hughes were in Florida watching Logan’s sister in a volleyball tournament. During the early morning hours of June 20, 2014, the air conditioning unit that was servicing the room where the dogs were boarded at Green Acre failed. Temperatures in the room soared, causing the death of 21 dogs, including the Hughes’ family pet. “This was a horrible accident, but it was an accident,” said Wilenchik.
During the media frenzy that followed the incident, Sheriff’s investigators developed a narrative suggesting that the air conditioning unit had not failed and that the deaths of these dogs were intentional and deliberate acts rather than an accident.
When electrical usage records from SRP that had been obtained through court order by Sheriff’s investigators confirmed that there was a drop in electrical usage consistent with a failed air conditioning unit, Sheriff’s investigators hid this information from the grand jury. Grand jury transcripts reveal that Sheriff’s investigators repeatedly provided false testimony when questioned by the prosecutor and in response to direct questions from jurors about the SRP records. The Sheriff’s Office also did not tell the grand jury that its own HVAC investigator had concluded that it was “very likely” that the air conditioning evaporative coil had frozen up and caused the air conditioning to fail that night. Instead, a detective falsely told the jury that their HVAC investigator had concluded that the air conditioning was working.
“The grand jury proceedings deteriorated even further after the false testimony about the SRP records and the HVAC Report,” said Wilenchik. “Left to explain the deaths of these dogs based on the narrative that the air conditioning did not fail, the veterinarian hired by Sheriff’s investigators speculated that the temperature in the room must have always been 100 degrees, which is absolutely false. Then, to explain why the dogs died on that day and no other, his best guess was that the dogs were especially ‘stressed’ that day or maybe there was an extra dog in the room, which is also false and absurd,” said Wilenchik. “We consulted an independent forensic veterinarian who has actually testified in support of the prosecution of numerous animal cruelty cases, including the Michael Vick case, and who has flatly concluded that the veterinarian’s theories are speculative and have no basis in the evidence, yet they were presented, unchallenged, to the grand jury.”
Mr. Wilenchik continued: “The Sheriff’s veterinarian also tried to inflame the grand jury by testifying that he did not find food in the dogs’ stomachs and implying that they were not given food and water. In fact, as our independent forensic veterinarian points out, he failed to tell the grand jury that when he examined the dogs’ bodies he noted in his report that the dogs were in ‘good flesh’ and there were no signs of malnourishment. Also, heat stroke will commonly cause the dogs’ bowels to empty, which is what happened here,” Wilenchik stated.
“The Motions were filed because the grand jury did not receive crucial, uncontroverted evidence that would have cleared Austin and Logan and should have resulted in no indictment,” said Wilenchik.
To download a courtesy copy of the Motion to Remand, please visit:
To view a “gif” animation of the SRP Report Data, please visit:
To download a copy of the HVAC Report, please visit: