NEWS: Friday April 30, 2010

Apr 30th @ 5:48 am in News by Scott Staley

Steven Clay Romero, age 38, of Grand Junction, Colorado, pleaded guilty yesterday 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.
Source: Press Release   (Posted 5:49a)

After a three day trial held in The District Court at Gunnison County Colorado, former Detention Center Captain Michelle Zadra was found guilty on 12 counts of an indictment filed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The Gunnison County Sheriff requested assistance from CBI in regard to issues in the Detention Center. Allegations of contraband being introduced into the Detention Center as well as inmates private telephone calls to attorneys being listened to as well as other issues prompted the request for the investigation. Zadra’s conviction was a result of allegations of privileged inmate conversations being listened to which led to perjury charges being filed against her. She was found guilty of nine felony counts of perjury and three misdemeanors counts including official misconduct. Zadra is scheduled for sentencing in June.
Source: Press Release    (Posted 5:48a)

The De Beque Canyon/I-70 rockfall mitigation project is complete. CDOT says the work was completed way ahead of schedule and all lanes are completely open.  The work began April 12 and was to continue through mid-May.
Source: Press Release   (Posted 5:48a)

A bill that would give Colorado colleges more flexibility to set tuition rates has won approval from the Senate Education Committee. College presidents and educators told lawmakers they need flexibility to set tuition rates if the state wants them to give up $300 million in state funding. KJCT says the proposal would require colleges to meet strict goals for graduation and employment of students or to roll back tuition increases.
Source: KJCT/AP   (Posted 5:47a)