Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Robert Heckmann, 25 drowning & strangling a kitten

Pueblo, CO

Pueblo County

January 15, 2014  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Class 6 Felony

threw the same kitten against a wall, 4 days before his arrest

1 12-week-old kitten, 1 dead 12-week-old kitten plead guilty

4/21/14/10th Judicial District Court

A Pueblo man delivered names of more than 1,500 people who signed an online petition to encourage the district attorney and court to reconsider a plea agreement for a man charged with killing a kitten.

Jason Lewis said he got involved with the community called "Justice for Loki" after reading about the arrest of Robert Heckmann, 25, who sent videos to his then-girlfriend of him drowning and eventually strangling a kitten to death.

  Photo courtesy of the Pueblo Chieftan   Heckmann has plead guilty to aggravated animal cruelty.  But in lieu of prison time, he faces supervised probation, the length of which will be left to the judge's discretion.

Lewis said the signatures represented the position of scores of people who believed some amount of prison time was appropriate for Heckmann.  The names were collected online from www.change.org and featured worldwide locations such as Finland and Germany, but Lewis said he believed about 80 percent of the names were from either Pueblo or Colorado Springs.

The 10th Judicial District encompasses only Pueblo County.

But Lewis said this issue is about how Pueblo is evaluated as a community.

He also said he understood the prosecutor's argument that supervised probation gives the government a longer time to track Heckmann than an 18-month prison term would allow, but wondered why there couldn't be both.

Heckmann is set for sentencing April 21st

Update 2/1/14:
"I did the bucket thing, Heckmann stated to finally drown the kitten.  And freaked out.  The kitten busted the lid wide open. I caught him with a towel so he wouldn't get my room wet.   And I sat there for like 10 minutes strangling his dumb (expletive).  I got everything on video," 1 text message read.

Another text message Heckmann sent from his cellphone stated, "I feel like a (expletive) sick person . . . You feel euphoric and just don't care what else is going on.  A huge natural high.   That's why killing is addictive.   I haven't had that high on so long, and I'm pissed it's already over."

Joe Stafford, director of Animal Law Enforcement at HSPPR and PAS said this is 1 of the worst, most distressing cases of animal cruelty he has ever seen.  "There is a strong correlation between animal cruelty and other forms of violence.  This type of violence worries me," he said.  "We've seen many cases in which those convicted of animal cruelty go on to commit other acts of violence, such as domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse.  Our main concern is to see justice done on behalf of Loki (the kitten).  While it's up to the courts to decide, we hope Heckmann is prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Gretchen Pressley, a communications specialist for HSPPR called the crime a "Very disturbing act of violence."

Heckmann was being held at Pueblo County jail but is out on $5,000 bond and awaiting arraignment.   Sentencing for a crime like this can range from one year to 18 months in prison, according to the HSPPR.

Update 2/3/14:
The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office has increased security around Heckmann's home.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Lisa Shorter says Heckmann's home has been added to the county's property watch list.   She said the family asked for extra protection because of threatening posts on social media.

Update 2/5/14:
The arrest affidavit for Heckmann suggests that he had abused the feline in the past.  According to the document, drafted by animal control officer Casey Yoder, Robert Heckmann 's girlfriend made the initial report to police and told animal control that she watched Heckmann throw the kitten against a wall on January 11th, 4 days before he allegedly tried to drown, then strangle the animal.  The affidavit also goes into detail about text messages Heckmann sent to her following the incident.

According to the affidavit, Heckmann admitted in text messages to letting "Stewie," another kitten in the house, play with the dying animal.  Also according to the affidavit, 1 portion of the message said: "Every time he would make a noise or twitch, Stewie was batting at him."

The text messages and video of the incident was found during Heckmann's arrest. Animal control officers said other messages from Heckmann suggested he felt euphoric at the killing.

Heckmann is charged with a count of aggravated animal cruelty, a Class 6 Felony.

Officers got a warrant to search Heckmann's home, where they say they found the cat's body in a garbage bag.  Another 12-week-old kitten was removed from the home and taken to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

Update 2/5/14:
The arrest affidavit for Heckmann suggests that he had abused the feline in the past.  According to the document, drafted by animal control officer Casey Yoder, Robert Heckmann 's girlfriend made the initial report to police and told animal control that she watched Heckmann throw the kitten against a wall on January 11th, 4 days before he allegedly tried to drown, then strangle the animal.  The affidavit also goes into detail about text messages Heckmann sent to her following the incident.

According to the affidavit, Heckmann admitted in text messages to letting "Stewie," another kitten in the house, play with the dying animal.  Also according to the affidavit, 1 portion of the message said: "Every time he would make a noise or twitch, Stewie was batting at him."

The text messages and video of the incident was found during Heckmann's arrest. Animal control officers said other messages from Heckmann suggested he felt euphoric at the killing.

Heckmann is charged with a count of aggravated animal cruelty, a Class 6 Felony.

Officers got a warrant to search Heckmann's home, where they say they found the cat's body in a garbage bag.  Another 12-week-old kitten was removed from the home and taken to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

Update 2/11/14:
The former girlfriend of Heckmann is seeking a permanent restraining order against him.

The 23-year-old woman's application for the restraining order suggests that the incident for which Heckmann was arrested was part of a larger series of menacing behavior.

The hearing to determine whether she will receive a protection order preventing Heckmann from having any contact with her was rescheduled.

There is a temporary order in place for the duration of the criminal case. Heckmann is free on $5,000 bail.

In the woman's request for the order, she claims Heckmann menaced her with a gun, threatened to harm her ex-boyfriend and threatened to "go on a rampage" if she broke up with him.

The woman said that a few days before his arrest, she argued with Heckmann about his wanting to harm her ex and that he "became enraged and threw a 10-week-old kitten against the wall."

Following that, he took his gun out and placed it between them, then took the weapon apart and threw the pieces onto the bed, she claimed.

The woman alleges that he proceeded to stare at her for hours.

Heckmann is considering a plea agreement and is scheduled for a plea hearing Thursday.

Update 2/14/14:
The Pueblo district attorney's office hopes a plea agreement for a man charged with torturing and killing a kitten will allow the government to monitor him longer than any prison sentence will.

Heckmann plead guilty to a charge of aggravated animal cruelty for a January 15th incident in which he is accused of trying to drown and eventually strangling a 12-week-old kitten.

As part of the plea agreement, Heckmann will avoid a prison sentence in favor of a term of supervised probation.  The length of that term will be left up to the judge.

Heckmann also may be sentenced to jail as a condition of the probation.  That time can be up to 90 days or a 2 year work release program.

Heckmann also will undergo a mental health examination, which will be completed before his sentencing hearing in April and he must comply with any recommendations from that report.

The plea hearing drew a small crowd of animal rights supporters who protested outside of the judicial building for periods before and after the hearing.

Darla L. Scheuerman said the group wanted the full prison sentence for Heckmann and expressed disappointment with the agreement.  "At this point we want a large portion of the plea agreement rejected," Scheuerman said. "We think prison time is appropriate."

Investigators said Heckmann recorded himself killing the kitten and sent the video and text messages to his then girlfriend bragging about it and saying that the killing gave him a sense of euphoria.

Heckmann pleaded to the original charge against him.

During the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Karl Kuenhold said the office didn't believe Heckmann's prison sentence could be longer than 18 months.  With the possibility of parole, it could be much shorter and Heckmann's lack of a criminal record could have exempted him from any prison sentence at all.   If he went to prison, once Heckmann got out and fulfilled his parole requirement, the state would be finished with him.

Under the agreement, it's possible Heckmann could be monitored for a decade or more and mental health treatment would be more readily available, Kuenhold said.  "Our goal was to get the long-term supervision and immediate mental health treatment," Kuenhold said.

While the protest group was calling for a stiffer penalty, they also are calling for legislative action to make the crime of animal cruelty more serious.  "It's clear we need to make some tremendous strides with the Legislature.   We need to change the law," said Tammie Stevens.  Currently, aggravated animal cruelty is a class 6 felony.

Scheuerman said the group wants the crime upgraded to a class 4, which would make the presumptive prison sentence 2 to 6 years and up to 12 years under aggravating circumstances.

Scheuerman said the group hasn't formally approached any state legislator yet, but hopes to get their attention to make a change.

Heckmann is set for sentencing April 21st.

Reference:

The Pueblo Chieftan The Daily Camera 
The Associated Press State Wire