Steven Clay Romero pleads guilty to dragging Buddy the dog to death

Some of those designated Westword's Shmuck of the Week earn this honor for kinda silly reasons -- like, for instance, the condom website that implied Coloradans have small dicks.

Not so Steven Clay Romero, named after he was formally accused of animal cruelty. The indictment against him -- to read it, click here -- charges that Romero tortured and mutilated Buddy the dog by tying him to the back of his vehicle and dragging him to death on the Colorado National Monument.

Yesterday, Romero entered a guilty plea in the case, potentially earning a three-year sentence -- and his sister still faces charges for covering up the crime. Get the bloody details about this particular Shmuck below, courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office:


DENVER -- Steven Clay Romero, age 38, of Grand Junction, Colorado, pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer to one count of aggravated animal cruelty for the dragging death of "Buddy the Dog," the U.S. Attorney's Office and the National Park Service announced. Romero is being held in federal custody pending a resolution of his criminal case. Romero will be sentenced by Judge Brimmer on July 30, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

According to the indictment and subsequent guilty plea, in the early morning hours of December 30, 2009, a carcass of a large mixed-breed dog with a rope tied around its neck was discovered in the Colorado National Monument in Mesa County, Colorado. Evidence from surveillance photos and marks left in the snow indicated the dog had been dragged from the back of a pick-up truck. The Colorado National Monument is within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and the District of Colorado.

Earlier on December 30, 2009, Romero had taken the dog alive in the back of a pick-up truck to Colorado National Monument. In order to kill the dog, the Defendant tied a rope to the dog's neck and dragged the dog behind the truck until the dog was dead. By doing so, the defendant needlessly mutilated, tortured and killed the dog.

Romero faces not more than 3 years in federal prison, and up to a $100,000 fine, or both. His sister, Melissa Marie Lockhart is charged with misprision of a felony for her attempt to cover up the dog's murder. Her case is still pending. If convicted, Lockhart faces not more than 3 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, or both. Lockhart is next due in court on May 10, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction for a bond review hearing. Judge Brimmer set a tentative trial date of June 1, 2010 for her case.

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 against Lockhart are only allegations and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts