A Nederland woman pleaded guilty Friday to shooting her dog and making threatening phone calls to other residents in the tiny mountain town.
Loralyn Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony, and one count of harassment, a misdemeanor, as part of a deal with the Boulder County District Attorney's Office. Thomas will serve four years of a deferred sentence and four years of probation concurrently. A third charge, prohibited use of a weapon, was dropped.
Nederland police originally arrested Thomas in late October after an acquaintance told police that Thomas had left a threatening message on her answering machine. In the message, Thomas said she had killed her dog, planned to kill herself and would kill the woman as well.
When Thomas was in jail, her cleaning lady discovered a dog in the backyard that had been shot in the head with a .38 caliber bullet. Police also later discovered a handgun and ammunition in Thomas' bedroom.
Both the defense and the prosecution acknowledged Friday that Thomas struggles with her mental health, and the judge agreed to require Thomas to attend Boulder County's Partnerships for Active Community Engagement program -- which helps people who have mental health and criminal problems.
"Obviously, this is a mental health case," said Deputy District Attorney Jenny McClintock. "And the best outcome is to have Ms. Thomas treated in the community."
Still, the District Attorney's Office had some reservations about the deal.
"People in the town of Nederland are concerned with her returning and, frankly, they're frightened," McClintock told Judge Gwyneth Whalen on Friday. "We're concerned about community safety, but we're also concerned about her safety."
Judge Whalen asked Thomas -- who is now taking psychiatric medications -- how she planned to stay emotionally stable in Nederland. Thomas said she would seek extra counseling outside of the PACE program, continue attending a church in Boulder and reach out to friends to keep from becoming isolated.
Thomas also said her new medication is allowing her to think more clearly.
"If I had been in my right mind that night, I never would have made those phone calls," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Laura Snider at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.