A jury on Tuesday convicted a La Plata County man of multiple felonies in an unusual case that involved years of domestic violence, animal cruelty and branding women with a hot iron.
Prosecutors said Louie Lucero, 51, faces a minimum of 22 years in prison with mandatory sentencing guidelines. He was convicted of 14 counts, including felony assault, false imprisonment, motor-vehicle theft, violation of a protection order and cruelty to animals.
Lucero, wearing khakis and a sports coat, looked down as each guilty verdict was read by 6th Judicial District Judge David Dickinson.
He shook hands with two public defenders – Faith Winstead and Katie Telfer – before being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He showed no emotion. He has been in custody at the La Plata County jail for more than a year.
Prosecutors said Lucero faces a maximum sentence of about 72 years in prison. Criminal offenders typically serve about 75 percent of their prison terms in the state Department of Corrections before being eligible for early release on good behavior.
Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. April 27 in District Court.
Deputy District Attorney Rachel Bromberg accused Lucero of a pattern of domestic violence dating to at least 2000 and involving three women.
Defense lawyers attacked the creditability of the women, faulted the criminal investigation and said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof.
“This is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt – not even close,” Winstead said.
Included in testimony:
Lucero broke the arms of two different women with whom he was intimately involved. “He twisted it like a dish towel, breaking the arm,” Bromberg said of one of the victims. The other woman suffered a broken arm after she tried to block Lucero from hitting her over the head with a television remote control.
He used a toilet plunger to strike a woman in the ribs, legs and head after she broke a drier or washing machine. He also slammed her head into a mirror, causing a scar.
He inflicted mental abuse, terrifying women by pointing a loaded gun at one and methodically loading and unloading a rifle in front of another. He dug holes in a backyard and told a woman one of the holes could be her grave.
He slammed a woman’s head into the concrete at least 10 times. She warned Lucero he was about to kill her, and he slammed her head into the concrete one more time.
He tortured one of his victim’s heeler-mix dog named Blue – the only thing that mattered to her – by picking the dog up by one leg and tossing her, which broke her leg. He also chained the dog to the ground with a padlock, deprived it of food and water, and stuffed its head into a drain pipe and let ice-cold water flow over its head.
He used a hot iron to brand his initials into two women. One woman said it was consensual. The other allowed him to brand her buttocks, but she refused to let him brand her breasts. She awoke to find a hot iron pressed into her breast.
Not all of the incidents were charged; some were allowed to be shared with jurors so prosecutors could demonstrate a cycle of domestic violence.
The trial started Feb. 13. Closing arguments were made Tuesday, and jurors deliberated for less than three hours before reaching their verdict.
Jurors were shown pictures of two women who looked bruised and strangled. Jurors also were shown the wire Lucero used to brand the letter “L” into a woman’s breast and buttocks.