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Tag: steven clay romero

Is 3-year sentence justice for Buddy?

040110_Buddy_the_dog_2_680x480Steven Clay Romero, the man who dragged a dog named Buddy to his death at the Colorado National Monument, received the maximum sentence of three years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Romero, 38, of Grand Junction, will spend three years in federal prison, followed by 12 months of supervised parole for aggravated animal cruelty in the dog’s death Dec. 30, 2009, the Montrose Press reported.

He also was fined $500 and ordered to pay $343 in restitution to Buddy’s owners.

The dog, reported stolen from the back of a pickup truck in Delta, Colorado, was found with a rope tied around his neck at the monument. Surveillance photos and marks in the snow indicated Buddy had been dragged behind a pickup truck while still alive.

Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, is charged as an accessory after the fact to aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly attempting to cover up Buddy’s death. Conviction could bring up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A theft complaint filed against her for stealing the dog was dismissed June 10, court records show.

The torture and killing of Buddy triggered a Facebook site, Demand Justice For Buddy, which as of Friday had 267,713 members.

Plea agreement reached in Buddy case

romero1Federal prosecutors have struck a plea agreement with Steven Clay Romero, the Colorado man accused of dragging a stolen dog to his death at Colorado National Monument.

Romero faced a maximum of three years in federal prison for allegedly tying Buddy, a German shepherd mix, to the back of his pickup truck in the predawn hours of Dec. 30, 2009, and dragging him several miles.

Romero, 38, of Grand Junction, is expected to plead guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals, the lone count lodged against him by a federal grand jury earlier this year, according to court filings. The terms of the plea agreement aren’t yet known, the Grand Junction Sentinel reported.

Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, still faces state charges for allegedly stealing Buddy and another dog from the back of a pickup truck in downtown Delta on Dec. 29.

Lockhart  told her brother to “get rid” of the dog after it had attacked a family cat, according to an arrest affidavit.

As of Friday afternoon, Romero, who had entered a not guilty plea, was in custody in the Mesa County Jail without bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on drug charges in connection with another case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer has said she would pursue a stiff penalty in the case, which brought international attention to Grand Junction. “This isn’t just the United States of America v. Romero,” Heldmyer told a judge in January. “This is the world v. Romero.”

(For our previous posts on Buddy, click here.)

Romero pleads not guilty in dragging death

Steven Clay Romero — accused in dragging a dog named Buddy to his death at Colorado National Monument– pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges in federal court Wednesday.

His sister, 32-year-old Melissa Lockhart, failed to appear at her hearing, and a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Romero is accused of dragging the dog for three miles behind his pick-up truck last month. Lockhart, who allegedly stole the dog from a couple in Delta, reportedly told Romero to get rid of Buddy after he mauled a family cat. She is also charged with animal cruelty.

In court yesterday, Romero’s attorney asked for more time to review the case. He told the judge he has received more than 930 pages of discovery evidence including numerous CD’s and DVD’s, according to KJCT in Grand Junction.

Before the hearing, supporters of Buddy delivered to the U.S. District Attorney petitions with more than 100,000 signatures the suspects receive the maximum sentence if convicted.

(For our previous posts on Buddy, click here.)

Romero, sister, indicted in death of Buddy

romeroSteven Clay Romero and his sister were indicted late Monday in connection with the dragging death of Buddy, a stolen German shepherd mix who was pulled by a rope attached to a pick-up truck for miles at Colorado National Monument.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the National Park Service announced the indictments today against 37-year-old Romero, of Grand Junction, and his sister, 32-year-old Melissa Marie Lockhart of Fruita, according to the Denver Post.

Romero is already in federal custody and an arrest warrant was issued for Lockhart.

The federal indictment alleges Romero knowingly tortured and needlessly mutilated and killed the dog by dragging it behind a vehicle for three miles at the Colorado National Monument sometime between Dec. 29 and 30.

lockhartThe indictment says Lockhart knew about the crime between Dec. 30 and 31, but concealed it by making false statements to law enforcement, and failed to report it.

Romero faces one count of aggravated animal cruelty, punishable, if convicted, by up to three years in federal prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Lockhart is additionally charged with stealing Buddy and another dog, and faces up to three years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, if convicted.

The case is in federal court because the crime is alleged to have occurred in a national park.

More than 100,000 signatures gathered via Facebook are to be presented to prosecutors tomorrow, demanding the maximum sentence for Romero and Lockhart, if convicted.

(For our previous posts on Buddy, click here.)

Sister of alleged dog dragger arrested

The sister of the man accused of torturing and killing Buddy, a German shepherd who was dragged for miles behind a pick-up truck, now faces charges of stealing the dog the day before it died.

The sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, told police she took the dog and another one because she thought they had been abandoned, the Denver Post reports.

Lockart, of Fruita, faces felony theft charges. Her brother, Steven Clay Romero, faces animal cruelty charges after Buddy was found dead Dec. 30 at Colorado National Monument with a rope around his neck.

Investigators say the dog was dragged about two miles before it died.

Police say Buddy and another dog were taken Dec. 29 from the bed of a truck in downtown Delta. A witness wrote down Lockhart’s license plate number. 

In federal court Monday, Romero told U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn that he has been harassed in jail by other inmates since his arrest Thursday. Romero is being held without bond in the Mesa County Jail and has been appointed a public defender.

Lockhart, who surrendered to police Saturday, was released on a $5,000 bond.

An online petition demanding the maximum three-year penalty be imposed on Romero if convicted has gathered nearly 16,000 signatures.

Seeking justice for Buddy

More than 6,500 people have signed an online petition demanding the maximum penalty for the man accused of dragging a dog named Buddy to his death at Colorado National Monument.

The goal, organizers say, is to ensure Steven Clay Romero, 37, the suspect in the Dec. 30 torture and death of a German shepherd mix, “spends every single minute” in federal prison allowed under law.

The petition, and a “Justice for Buddy” Facebook page, were created by a Washington, D.C. woman, the Denver Post reported. The petition urges the courts to apply, upon conviction, the maximum penalty of three years in federal prison, a $100,000 fine and one-year of probation.

Romero is scheduled for a detention hearing today, and a federal prosecutor is expected to seek his continued pre-trial detention.

Romero is being held without bond on suspicion of aggravated cruelty to animals, a federal felony, at the Mesa County Jail.

He is accused of dragging the dog, which had been stolen, for two to three miles behind a pickup truck.

(For all of our coverage of Buddy, click here.)

Arrest made in Colorado dog dragging case

romero“I don’t get it,”  Steven Clay Romero said when ordered held without bond  yesterday on charges of killing a dog by dragging it behind a pickup truck for two miles at  the Colorado National Monument.

Here’s hoping, if convicted, he does get it — and all else he might deserve.

Romero, 37, of Fruita, Colo., is scheduled for a detention hearing and arraignment Monday afternoon.

Upon Romero’s expression of bewilderment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer rose from her seat at the bail hearing, walked toward Romero and tossed a copy of the charges on the table in front of him, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Romero, who told U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn that he is a truck driver, expressed concern about sitting in jail over the weekend.

“So, in other words I’ll be sitting in jail and probably lose my job, too?” Romero asked Milburn.

“Yes,” the judge answered.

According to an arrest affidavit, after the dogs dragged body was found, a review of video surveillance at a park entrance showed a double-cab pickup entering the park early Wednesday with a dog and exiting 12 minutes later without one.

The affidavit said the dog, a shepherd-blue heeler mix named Buddy, had been stolen in Delta by an associate of Romero’s and taken to a home in Fruita where Romero was staying.

A resident of Delta recognized the dog from a photo of his body online and contacted authorities. A witness to the dog’s theft provided officials with a license plate number, which led them to a home in Fruita where Romero was staying. National Park Service rangers went to the Fruita home and found paw prints in the snow in the front yard and rope similar to that used to tie the dog to the truck.

The rangers interviewed Romero’s sister, who told them Romero said he was going to kill the dog. “She stated he left with the dog late last night and returned home a half hour later without it,” the affidavit said. The affidavit makes no mention of a motive for killing the dog.

A news release from monument officials said Romero was arrested Thursday morning at the Mesa County Justice Center after he appeared for an unrelated criminal case. He faces a maximum three years in prison, a fine up to $100,000 and a year of mandatory parole if convicted on a federal charge of felony cruelty to animals.

Romero was arrested six times in the past seven years by police in Montrose and Grand Junction on a variety of charges, including weapons offenses, traffic violations and drug distribution, according to court records.

(For subsequent posts and all of our coverage of Buddy, click here.)