Surprise Plea of Not Guilty from Buddy’s Killer

On January 27th, more than a dozen animal lovers gathered outside a federal courthouse in Grand Junction, CO to honor the memory of a dog named Buddy.  In late December, the German shepherd mix was tied to the bumper of a truck and dragged until he was dead.  They were also present to hear the plea from the man arrested for killing Buddy. 


Prosecutors say that Steven Clay Romero tied a rope around Buddy’s neck and dragged the helpless dog for 3 miles behind his truck.  The Denver Post reported “the dog was forced to run up and around steep hills at the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction before it was dragged when it couldn’t keep up.”  Buddy’s body was found with the rope tied around his neck on a snowy road.


Romero was arrested for the crime while he was in court for an unrelated incident.  He was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.


Prosecutors also said that Romero got Buddy from his sister, Melissa Lockhart, who allegedly stole two dogs from Joe Leber’s vehicle.  A witness wrote down Lockhart’s license plate because the event looked suspicious. 


Leber had rescued Buddy from a shelter more than four years ago. Lockhart brought Buddy to Romero’s home and asked him “to get rid of the dog.”  She is charged with animal cruelty, felony theft and false-reporting charges.  The other dog taken during the crime is safely home with Leber.


At his hearing, Romero gave a surprising plea of “not guilty” to U.S. Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn.  According to one source, this plea may have been a tactic to stall and keep him in the small jail where he is currently being held.  Romero told the U.S. Magistrate that he has been harassed by other inmates since his arrest. 


He said, “Pretty much everybody thinks I’ve done it.”


Romero may be concerned about more intense harassment in a larger federal prison.  That is where he would have been transferred if he had entered a plea of guilty.  Apparently there is a code of ethics among prisoners for this type of cruel crime. 


Being hassled by inmates isn’t Romero’s only worry; he is also receiving lot of notoriety from pet lovers.  A Facebook page to honor Buddy has caused a lot of attention. “Justice for Buddy” was created by an anonymous animal activist known as Willie Wonka.  More than 230,000 people joined the crusade.  And more than 100,000 of them signed the Care2 petition that is listed on the Facebook page to see that Romero gets the maximum sentence of 3 years in prison, a fine of $100,000 and one year of probation.


Each person’s signature was printed and bound in a book that measured 18 inches thick.  Animal advocate Gary Sherman of Colorado personally delivered the Care2 petition to prosecutors before Romero’s arraignment.  


“Sadly, Buddy is not the only horrific animal abuse case we’ve heard about,” Sherman said to the Denver Post.  “The reaction to him has been extraordinary, Buddy struck a nerve, and it became viral.” 


The developers of “Justice for Buddy” have now created a second Facebook page to encourage angry petitioners to support animal welfare organizations in their communities.  “Tell Em Buddy Sent You” asks pet lovers’ to perform at least one act of kindness on behalf of homeless animals.  Suggestions range from walking a homeless dog at a shelter or delivering food and blankets.


“We’ve gotten hundreds of people who are doing great things.  Some are adopting or fostering dogs and many are naming their dogs, Buddy,” Sherman said.


Click here to help get Justice for Buddy.


Facebook Justice for Buddy creator

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Jeri W.
Jeri W.5 years ago


Megan D.
Megan Dietz5 years ago

i'm glad he's in jail and he deserves the maximum sentence! just like the kids who killed rigsby deserve!

Michal C.
Michal C.5 years ago

Like everyone here I hope this man is punished to the fullest extent of the law. What he did was horrible and sickening and the suffering of Buddy was intense and heartbreaking, but if we condone violence then are we any better than that monster? I would rather see laws strengthened and people educated starting in the schools about humane treatment of animals. Violence begets violence. Lets us all resolve to be kinder people....that would be a greater victory for Buddy than just the imprisonment of this one monster.

Sharon K.
Sharon K.5 years ago

May the Good Lord put the sufferings of Buddy on the Cross so that good will flow and may he give us more frontline Christians in service to Justice for all creation.

Priscilla Burbano

Monster, not guilty? heartless so called human being there is nothing human about you. Life will pay you back generously for the hideous crimes you have commited!!! this goes for all the other sick-os out there.

Mary C.
Mary C.5 years ago

Patty G, I've got an extra rope for her too!

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago

Plus beating the crap out of that idiot!

Patty G.
Patty G.5 years ago

Naoko H and Mary: Let me know when and where and I will come and help. That sick S.O.B. needs to go the same way he did Buddy. Hanging would be too quick. His sister needs to get hers too. To Joe Leber: My heart goes out to you. That was a beautiful dog. We are behind you all the way. God Bless.

Mary C.
Mary C.5 years ago

Naoko H says.....I can kill this son of a bitch after I'm done with Michael Vick.

I've got 2 ropes!!!!!

Vera T.
Vera T.5 years ago

I hope the inmates punish him severely, his jail sentence is nothing compared to how the dog suffered - we had the same incident here in S.Africa, but the perpetrator got off with a slap on the wrist - unfortunately as the victims are merely 'animals' most of the offenders get away with hideous cruelty.