Some individuals accused of crimes wind up generating a significant amount of sympathy -- but that's unlikely to happen for Steven Clay Romero -- because of what he's accused of doing to a dog named Buddy.
Late yesterday, a grand jury indicted Romero on one charge of animal cruelty. According to the indictment (read it here), Romero "did knowingly torture, needlessly mutilate and needlessly kill" Buddy "by dragging the dog behind a vehicle at the Colorado National Monument." His sister, Melissa Marie Lockhart, has also been indicted for covering up this sick crime; an arrest warrant has her name on it.
If he's found guilty, a judge can't sentence Romero to being dragged behind a car in a Buddy-like way, no matter how much you wish for it. Get more details from the U.S. Attorneys Office release below:
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GRAND JUNCTION MAN INDICTED FOR KILLING "BUDDY THE DOG" AND MAN'S SISTER IS INDICTED FOR COVERING IT UP
DENVER -- Steven Clay Romero, age 37, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and his sister, Melissa Marie Lockhart, age 32, of Fruita, Colorado, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver late yesterday on charges related to the dragging death and subsequent cover up of "Buddy the Dog," the U.S. Attorney's Office and the National Park Service announced. Romero is presently being held in federal custody. An arrest warrant has been issued for Lockhart. Romero is due to appear in federal court in Grand Junction on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird T. Milburn.
According to the indictment, between December 29 and December 30, 2009, Romero did knowingly torture, needlessly mutilate, and needlessly kill an animal, known as "Buddy the Dog," by dragging the dog behind a vehicle at the Colorado National Monument. The defendant allegedly tied a rope around the bumper of a vehicle on one end and a rope around the dog's neck on the other end, driving and dragging him until the dog was dead.
Between December 30 and December 31, 2009, Lockhart had knowledge that a felony crime, namely aggravated animal cruelty, was committed by Romero. Further, the indictment alleges that Lockhart concealed the crime by making false statements to law enforcement, and that she did not make the crime known to a judge or another person in authority.
Steven Clay Romero is charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty. If convicted he faces not more than 3 years in federal prison, and up to a $100,000 fine, or both. Melissa Marie Lockhart is charged with misprision of a felony. If convicted she faces not more than 3 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, or both. Lockhart also faces state charges of dog theft in Delta, Colorado.
The case was investigated by The National Park Service, which is a division of the Department of Interior, the Delta Police Department, the Fruita Police Department, the Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Romero and Lockhart are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.
These charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.