Cottonwood man convicted on animal cruelty charges

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Dothan (WTVY)-- Following a four-day trial it took a Houston County jury only two hours to convict a Cottonwood man of animal cruelty and neglect.

Jerome Wesley Hughes (R) in court with his attorney after a Houston County jury found him guilty of animal cruelty and neglect. Photo from March 8, 2018.

The verdicts came more than three years after about 65 dogs of the Dogo Argentino breed were seized from Jerome Wesley Hughes home, allegedly suffering from malnutrition.

“(The jury) took this case as seriously as they would take any other case,” Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Stanley reacted.

However, defense attorney Ruth Robinson believes the guilty verdicts were reached because the jury didn’t hear facts. “I think the state presented evidence that didn’t tell the truth,” she said.

Hughes said Cottonwood Police and the Humane Society of the United States conspired to bring the charges and wrongly alleged the dogs were used for fighting to obtain felony warrants.

During the trial a veterinary expert testified the breed often appears frail but are not necessarily malnourished.

Originally charged with over 90 counts, Hughes was tried this week on 10 indictments and convicted of nine.

Stanley asked Circuit Judge Larry Anderson to order Hughes taken into custody immediately. Anderson, though, is allowing him to remain on bond pending sentencing on May 4.