A jury will decide if the man accused of torturing and killing a kitten should serve time in prison.
District Judge Victor Reyes rejected Robert Heckmann's plea agreement Monday morning because of statements he made in an exclusive interview on KRDO NewsChannel 13. In that interview that aired March 13, Heckmann said he reluctantly agreed to plead guilty to aggravated animal cruelty as part of a plea deal.
KRDO NewsChannel's Rana Novini asked Heckmann: "Do you admit that you did it?"
"No, I do not," Heckmann replied.
Heckmann said he pleaded guilty to videotaping himself torturing and killing a kitten named Loki but said others were at fault, including his then-girlfriend who turned him into law enforcement.
Jeff Chostner, district attorney for the 10th Judicial District, said Heckmann's interview ultimately led Reyes to deny the plea deal.
A group called Justice for Loki started a petition and wrote letters to Reyes, asking that Heckmann face a harsher punishment. "We feel that the plea agreement was way too soft for the crime that took place and the massive suffering that he put this animal through," said Darla Scheuerman with Justice for Loki.
If the judge had accepted the plea agreement, Heckmann's jail time would have been capped at 90 days. But now, Heckmann faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
"When the news came out that the plea bargain had been rejected, there were tears of joy," Scheuerman said. "Right now we have one very large win and in June we'll be looking for our justice."
Earlier this month, Heckmann said, "There's a lot of unanswered questions that everybody wants to know and I have the answers, but I can't answer all of them."
A two-day jury trial will begin June 10. Heckmann remains out on bond.