United States v. Romero

Defendant Steven Romero appealed his three year sentence for aggravated animal cruelty. In 2009, Defendant tied a rope around the neck of "Buddy," a dog belonging to a family in Delta, Colorado, and dragged him to death behind a pick-up truck on federal land. The United States Probation Office prepared a pre-sentence investigation report (PSR), indicating that while Defendant was in jail for killing Buddy and before pleading guilty, he made a series of telephone calls attempting to silence witnesses and procure false grand jury testimony. The PSR recounted Romero’s ten prior felony convictions, poor physical health, mild mental retardation, amphetamine dependence, depression, and “[i]ntermittent [e]xplosive [d]isorder." The presumptive sentence for aggravated animal cruelty was 12-18 months, but that maximum could be doubled under certain circumstances. Upon review of the sentencing court's record, the Tenth Circuit concluded that the district court did not impose a substantively unreasonable sentence when sentencing Defendant to 36-months' imprisonment. The Court affirmed the lower court's judgment.