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Woman charged with throwing dog off 5th-story balcony

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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman accused of throwing a dog off a fifth-story balcony, killing the animal, has been charged.

Samantha Rebekah Hughes, 25, of Salt Lake City, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony; assault and interfering with an arresting officer, both class B misdemeanors.

On May 25, Salt Lake City police responded to Hughes’ residence and found her mother bleeding from her nose and sitting in her car with her lifeless dog next to her, according to charging documents. She told the officer that her dog “was thrown from the fifth-story balcony and the dog was dying. (The officer) stated he observed the dog was not moving or breathing,” according to charging documents.

Hughes said “Romeo,” a Chihuahua-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix, was her emotional support animal. But both she and her mother say Hughes was having a psychotic episode that day.

“I was thinking I was 7-months-old. I didn’t know who the president was. I couldn’t answer common questions,” a tearful Hughes said. “I was hearing things and hallucinating.”

Hughes said in her mind, she thought she was in a nightmare, and thought she was doing something to wake herself up.

The mother told the officer that she had barricaded herself in her room, but Hughes was still able to get in and throw the dog off the balcony, the charges state.

Police took Hughes to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute but she was released four hours later, she said. The next night, she had another psychotic episode and police were called again, Hughes said. This time, she said she was transferred to a hospital in Provo where she was admitted for 10 days.

“When I finally picked her up, it was my daughter, she was back,” Rebeka Hughes said.

Hughes disputes some of the allegations in the charging documents, and Samantha Hughes said she’s surprised police pursued criminal charges at all.

“They know I was in the hospital twice and they know I had a psychotic break,” she said.

In November, Hughes was charged with aggravated assault resulting in serious injury, assault, damaging a phone and interfering with an arresting officer. In that case, Hughes is accused of attacking her mother and her sister, according to charging documents, The next hearing in that case was scheduled for Sept. 28.

But both Hughes and her mother say the support one another and that the allegations of the mother being attacked are false.

“My mom is the only one I have,” Hughes said.