Woman to plead guilty in dog dragging
A woman accused of stealing a dog that was later killed by her brother on Colorado National Monument is expected to plead guilty to related federal charges, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Melissa Lockhart, 32, of Fruita, filed notice Monday through her attorney that a disposition has been reached with prosecutors and she has requested a change-of-plea hearing, according to court filings.
Jeff Dorschner, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, refused to say whether a deal with concessions by the government has been reached in the case.
Lockhart was indicted in January by a federal grand jury on a felony charge of withholding information related to the Dec. 30 death of Buddy, a dog killed at the hands of Lockhart’s brother, Steven Romero, 38.
Lockhart’s charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
She pleaded not guilty to state charges alleging she stole two dogs, including Buddy, from a truck in 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.