Sentencing of former Fairfield Dog Rescue president continued pending psychological evaluation

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BRIDGEPORT — Former Fairfield Dog Rescue president Heidi Lueders had destroyed her beloved home, but Celly Roberts was not going to get the justice hoped for on Wednesday.

Wiping tears from his eyes, Roberts told Superior Court Judge Peter McShane that Lueders totally ransacked his home while it housed five dogs who allegedly died in his care.

“I’m an animal lover,” Roberts said, turning to Lueders who sat with her attorney at the defense table. “Miss Lueders, do you remember when I told you that you could use my house for your animal rescue?” What followed was that I lost everything. I lost my house. Justice must be imposed.

But while the judge said he had sympathy for Roberts’ plight, he said he had already agreed to give Lueders’ attorney an extension to his sentence.

“You came here today to make your voice heard and I can tell you that you were heard,” he said.


Lueders, 34, former president of Bully Breed Dog Rescue, was charged with leaving five dogs to die at the Prince Street Fairfield home she rented in November 2018 from Roberts. The dogs‘ remains – skin and bones – were found in locked cages throughout the house.

Lueders was charged with five counts of first degree malicious murder of an animal – a felony – and one count of first degree criminal damage to property.

But in February, following a trial before the judge, McShane found Lueders not guilty of the animal charges and only guilty of the criminal damage charge.

“You might be listening to this and thinking ‘does this judge believe or honestly think these dogs died of natural causes,'” the judge said after announcing his verdict to more than a dozen activists. of animal rights sobbing in the back of the courtroom. “It doesn’t matter what I think, what matters is what the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The misdemeanor of damage to property is a Class D felony punishable by five years in prison. Lueders was due to be sentenced Wednesday on that charge, but as the courtroom was packed with onlookers, Lueders’ attorney Robert Serafinowicz asked for an extension.

Serafinowicz told the judge that the pre-sentence report prepared by the Office of Adult Probation wrongly included facts about the dogs’ deaths but, more importantly, a psychiatric evaluation of his client had not been completed.

“The court will be well served by this assessment. I apologize to the victim but I have an obligation to my client,” Serafinowicz said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Felicia Valentino told the judge she was ready to continue with the sentencing hearing.

But the judge said he had agreed the assessment would be needed to decide what sentence to impose and continued the hearing until May 4.

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