Steamboat dog shooter gets 10 days in jail
Del Herman sentenced for March incident in Indian Trails neighborhood
June 2, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs resident Del Herman, 70, will serve 10 consecutive days in Routt County Jail for fatally shooting a dog in March.
Herman was sentenced Thursday by District Court Judge Michael O'Hara.
"One of the roles of the criminal justice system is to deter conduct that a civilized society should deter," O'Hara said.
On May 24 as part of a plea agreement offered by the Routt County District Attorney's Office, Herman pleaded no contest to aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class 6 felony, and reckless endangerment, a Class 3 misdemeanor. The reckless endangerment charge was related to Herman's discharging a firearm in the city.
The agreement outlined several punishments, but the judge was left to determine whether Herman should serve jail time.
"What I can do is send the message to others that actions like this are not going to be tolerated in our community and will be dealt with harshly," O'Hara said.
He sentenced Herman to jail despite a recommendation from the DA's Office that Herman not go to jail.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle said the punishment laid out in the agreement was reasonable and appropriate.
"Mr. Herman does owe a debt to our community for what he did," Prindle said to O'Hara.
The agreement called for Herman to be on supervised probation for 1 1/2 years. If he successfully completes the probation, the felony conviction will be dismissed, but the file can never be sealed.
The plea agreement also calls for Herman to pay nearly $3,400 in restitution, perform 100 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to the Arnone family. Herman will be prohibited from possessing firearms and also must donate $750 to the Routt County Humane Society and the Animal Assistance League.
Pat Arnone, whose family owned the black Labrador retriever named Duke, told O'Hara he wanted Herman to serve jail time.
"Mr. Herman is getting off with effectively no punishment," he said. "He purposely and willfully tortured a member of my family and has the opportunity to walk away from this entire situation with minimal criminal history, some community service, and a pittance of a fine with a charitable contribution. … The only remaining punishment that can be doled out is for this court to sentence Mr. Herman to jail."
After the hearing, Arnone said O'Hara listened and that a message was sent to the community.
Herman had his attorney speak on his behalf, and Herman declined to comment after the hearing. His attorney, Sandy Horner, told the judge that Herman was trying to scare the dog and not to kill it.
The dog was wandering off leash in the Indian Trails neighborhood, which is owned and managed by the Herman family.
"It was an act that Mr. Herman didn't think a lot about but now wishes he had," Horner said.
Herman repeatedly denied to police that he had shot the dog, but he was arrested after a witness linked Herman to the crime. Herman was taken to jail and later confessed to police, who recovered the .22-caliber gun used in the shooting from underneath insulation in the attic of Herman's shop building.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com