UPDATE: The original print version of this article stated that a third person drove Ryan Greathouse’s truck away, and he was in the car with Roman. That came from Roman’s 2012 court statement. This online version of the article has been updated to reflect this.
Roberto Miramontes Roman, 44, faces an eleven-count federal indictment. Seven of the counts involve allegations of possessing and distributing methamphetamine, and doing so while carrying an assault-type rifl e and a handgun. Two other counts have to do with Roman being in the U.S. illegally.
Counts 7 and 8 are at the heart of U.S.A. vs. Roman. They claim that on Jan. 5, 2010, during the commission of the crime of selling drugs, and in an effort to avoid apprehension and a potential prison sentence, Roman knowingly carried and discharged an AK-47, and intentionally killed Deputy Fox while she was engaged in her official duties.
Roman was found not guilty of killing Deputy Fox in a 2012 trial in Utah’s 4th District court. Roman stunned the courtroom in Spanish Fork when he testified that Ryan Greathouse – Deputy Fox’s brother who was involved in the drug deal with Roman – was the one who shot and killed the deputy. Greathouse died of a drug overdose in Las Vegas in April of 2010, three-and-a-half months after Deputy Fox was killed. The jury found there was reasonable doubt to convict Roman.
Attorney Stephen McCaughey, who represented Roman in the state trial, and is again in the federal trial, argued that trying Roman again for the same crime amounts to double-jeopardy. But under what’s called “dual sovereignty,” the courts have determined that each state and the federal government can enact their own laws and prosecute violations of those laws in both state and federal courts.
Chief Judge, David Nuffer, is presiding over the trial. The 12-member jury and two alternate jurors is made up of five men and nine women.
Assistant United States Attorney, Diana Hagen, delivered the government’s opening statement.
Hagen pointed out that Deputy Fox was the first female officer in the Millard County Sheriff’s Office and the first female officer ever killed in the line of duty in Utah.
She talked about evidence that will be introduced she said will prove Roman intentionally killed Deputy Fox. That evidence will include forensic evidence she said will prove that the confession Roman made that he killed Deputy Fox is true. Hagen also said a bullet trajectory expert will prove that Roman fired the shots that killed Deputy Fox.
McCaughey, said the defense will also put a bullet trajectory expert on the stand. In his brief opening statement, McCaughey stressed the jury instructions read by the judge that Roman is presumed to be innocent and that the government must convince each and every one of the jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Roman killed Deputy Fox.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Trina Higgins and John Viti Felice questioned witnesses called to the stand Monday.
First was Rhett Kimball, who was the supervising deputy on the night of Jan. 5 and morning of Jan. 6, 2010. Kimball testified that he was in an area called McCornick, south and east of Delta, where there had been some burglaries taking place recently. Around midnight, he reported seeing a car and a pick up truck pull side by side on a remote road. The car then left, but the pickup remained. Offi cer Kimball drove over to the pickup, recognized it as belonging to Ryan Greathouse, but no one was inside.
Kimball called Deputy Fox, and asked her why her brother would be in such a remote place at such an odd hour. Deputy Fox answered back that she was afraid her brother had “fallen off the wagon,” after a recent rehabilitation and might have been looking to buy drugs. Kimball asked deputy Fox to stop the car, which was now headed back to Delta, because he had reasonable suspicion that a drug deal had been carried out.
According to Roman's 2012 statement, another person had driven Ryan Greathouse’s truck away, and Greathouse was with Roman in the car.
Deputy Fox radioed that she was making a stop on a grey Cadillac “by the ballparks,” and asked to have a check run on the license plate, 7-1-3 Papa Alpha Bravo, the NATO phonetic alphabet used by military and police officials. That was the last anyone heard from Deputy Fox.
The license plate came back to a 1995 Cadillac Deville registered to Ruben Chavez Reyes in Fillmore. He is a friend of Roman’s and was later charged with obstruction of justice in the investigation. Officer Kimball then drove to the ballpark location, and when he arrived, he saw Deputy Fox’s patrol pickup with lights flashing in the road, and then saw Deputy Fox’s body lying in a pool of blood. Dashcam video from officer Kimball’s patrol vehicle, shows him running toward the fallen officer and the audio picks up his voice screaming “Josie! Talk to me Josie!,” several times. Deputy Fox did not respond, and it became clear she had died from her wounds. One bullet hit her near her badge and somehow her bullet-resistant vest did not stop the round.
Officer Kimball testified that he called for medical help, and asked that Sheriff Robert Dekker be notified. Fellow deputy, Mike Peacock then arrived and helped secure the area as a crime scene.
Officer Kimball then called Deputies Richard Jacobson and Mike Turner, who both live in Oak City. They were the closest to Ryan Greathouse’s home in nearby Leamington, and Kimball asked them to go secure him as a witness.
Deputy Richard Jacobson took the stand Monday and testified that the officers went to Greathouse’s home and told him his sister, Deputy Fox, had been shot and killed. Jacobson said Greathouse was still dressed, and described his reaction as “calm,” but that he was very willing to help in the investigation anyway he could.
Jacobson also contacted cellphone provider, T-Mobile, to track the pings from a number they believed belonged to Roman. The cell phone was pinging off cell towers, and each ping was farther north, and nearing the city of Lehi.
The pings ultimately indicated the phone was in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City.
Other witnesses took the stand Monday, including Brad Ballow of Nephi, who testified that he saw a Cadillac that matched the description of the suspect vehicle he had seen on TV. It was stuck in a snow bank in farm fields west of Nephi. He notified police.
Juab County Sheriff’s deputy, Brent Pulver, testified that he responded to the report of the Cadillac, and that there were no license plates on the car.
Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Jeff Davis, testified that he was sent to check out a ping from the cellphone in the area of 1100 West and 300 South in Salt Lake City. He discovered an orange Corvette parked at a home, and it had the same license plates that had been on the Cadillac.
Officers from several agencies responded to the area, and set up a perimeter, but the suspects had left the area. Taxi and limousine driver, Joseph Fernando Santos, testified that he gave two men a limo ride from Nephi to Provo, then later that day, took them to Beaver on a $300 fare.
Eduardo Betancourt and his son-in-law, Valentin Dominguez Vasquez, both took the stand to say they discovered two men sleeping in their tool shed at a Beaver trailer park. Both men testified someone had put cardboard over the window of the shed. Beaver County Sheriff’s deputy, Warren Glen Woolsey, testified that he put together a team to arrest the men and they did. Officers took Roman and Chavez to the Beaver County Sheriff’s office.
By that time, Millard County Sheriff, Robert Dekker, had asked the Utah County Sheriff’s Office to take over the investigation.
Utah County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Matt Higley, interviewed Roman at the Beavere. Higley testified Monday that Roman told him he was angry that he was pulled over the morning of Jan. 5. Roman told Higley that the only reason he was pulled over was that he is Mexican. Roman told Higley the officer who pulled him over was also angry, and described her as using a “high-pitched, upset, angry female voice.” At that point, Roman told Lt. Higley that he saw the officer coming up to his car out of the corner of his eye, and that he “poked the rifle out a little bit” from the window and shot her.
Roman told Higley he had later thrown the AK-47 and a .38 caliber handgun out by the abandoned Cadillac near Nephi. He even drew Lt. Higley a map where he could find the guns.
The interview was conducted after Lt. Higley had read Roman his Miranda Rights, and he testified that Roman understood, and that he volunteered all of the information he gave in his interview with Higley.
The quality of the recorded interview with Roman is poor, and only about half of the interview is understandable. Still, Roman’s confession to killing Deputy Fox is clear.
It wasn’t until the 2014 state trial that Roman took the stand and said it was Ryan Greathouse who killed Deputy Fox. Roman testified in that trial that Greathouse had threatened to hurt or kill Roman’s children and other family members, unless Roman took responsibility for the killing and fled to Mexico.
Monday’s proceedings ended midway through the questioning of Lt. Higley. That will resume Tuesday, and several more witnesses will be called.
Several of Deputy Fox’s family members are attending the trial in Salt Lake, including her husband, parents, and sister, as well as aunts, uncles and her grandmother.
Millard County Sheriff, Robert Dekker, is also attending the trial. Outside the courthouse, Sheriff Dekker said this federal trial is the fruition of a lot of work and a lot of time. Sheriff Dekker pointed out that the state trial, in which Roman was cleared of the murder charge but convicted on drug charges, ended on a Friday.
“We’ve been working on this thing since the Saturday, the following day, and so a lot of time, a lot of effort and it’s going to be worth it,” Sheriff Dekker said. “I think it’s going to be worth it. I believe in the system, I really do, and sometimes things happen, but in my mind, and according to everything I’ve seen, he’s guilty.”
Visit millardccp.com for daily updates on the trial from the Millard County Chronicle Progress