Time reduced after dog-death guilty plea

Melissa Lockhart

A Fruita woman will face a maximum 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty Friday to being an accessory after the fact in the death of a dog on Colorado National Monument.

Melissa Lockhart, 32, originally had faced up to three years in prison if convicted of withholding information of a crime, a charge that federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss Friday.

Lockhart, who remains free on bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17 by U.S. District Judge Phillip Brimmer.

Lockhart was indicted in January by a grand jury related to the Dec. 30 death of Buddy, a dog killed by Lockhart’s brother, Steven Romero, 38. She has pleaded not guilty to state charges alleging she stole two dogs, including Buddy, from downtown Delta on Dec. 29.

Romero pleaded guilty April 29 to aggravated animal cruelty and faces a maximum three years in prison at his sentencing hearing in Denver on July 30.

Prosecutors alleged in court filings that Lockhart told her brother to get rid of Buddy after the dog killed a cat at Lockhart’s home.

The dog died of internal hemorrhaging consistent with a dragging death.


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