New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

CT woman accused of killing dogs turns down plea bargain

- By Daniel Tepfer

BRIDGEPORT –— The former owner of a Fairfield dog rescue agency, accused of starving to death five dogs she had rescued, declined a plea bargain Thursday, instead requesting a trial before a judge.

Heidi Lueders told Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton she was turning down a plea bargain of two and a half years in prison offered to her by Assistant State’s Attorney Felicia Valentino.

“You understand the prosecutor will not be offering you this resolution again?” Dayton asked Lueders.

“Yes” Lueders responded. The judge also told Lueders, who is charged with five counts of first-degree malicious killing of an animal and one count of first-degree criminal damage to property, that she could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted following a trial.

But Lueders’ lawyer, Robert Serafinowi­cz, insisted that his client wanted a trial – by a judge rather than a jury.

Dayton then continued the case to Dec. 1.

Lueders declined comment as she left the Golden Hill Street courthouse. She is free on $250,000 bond.

The 32-year-old Lueders is the former president of Bully Breed Rescue.

Police said when officers went to Lueders’ former Prince Street home in Fairfield in November 2018, they were nearly overwhelme­d by an odor. They said the windows in the two-story house were ajar and there were fans and several air fresheners placed about the house.

Once inside the house, police said, they found the floor covered in garbage and animal feces. The decomposed bodies of five dogs lay in locked cages. Police said it appears the dogs had been in the cages for nearly a year.

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