SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Day 2 of the USA vs. Roman trial at Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse on Tuesday saw federal prosecutors continue to lay out the case that Roberto Miramontes Roman shot and killed Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy, Josie Fox, in January of 2010.
Roman, 44, faces an 11 count federal indictment, with counts 7 and 8 accusing him of knowingly killing Deputy Fox during the commission of a crime, and in an effort to avoid being caught and a potential prison sentence.
Roman was found not guilty of killing Deputy Fox in a 2012 state trial. Roman stunned the court in Spanish Fork when he testified Ryan Greathouse, Deputy Fox’s brother, killed the deputy. Roman said he agreed to take the blame for the killing and move to Mexico because he said Greathouse was threatening to hurt or kill his family members if he didn’t. Greathouse died of a drug overdose in Las Vegas just over three months after Deputy Fox was killed. The jury found there was enough reasonable doubt to not convict Roman of the murder.
In the 2012 trial, Roman testified he sold methamphetamine to Greathouse around midnight on Jan. 5., 2010 in a remote area known as McCornick, southeast of Delta. Roman testified that “another person, but he can’t remember who” drove Greathouse’s pickup truck to Greathouse’s home in nearby Leamington, while Roman and Greathouse drove to Hinckley so Greathouse could get money he owed Roman.
As he testified Monday, former Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy, Rhett Kimball, was in the McCornick area that night, where several burglaries had taken place recently. Kimball said he saw headlights of a car and a truck as they met side by side on a remote road. Then the car pulled away but the truck stayed behind. Kimball went to check on the truck, and recognized it as belonging to Greathouse. No one was in it at the time.
Kimball then radioed Deputy Fox to stop the car, which was now heading back to Delta, because he had enough suspicion that a drug deal had taken place. Deputy Fox soon radioed that she was making a stop on a grey Cadillac near the ballparks and asked to have the license plate 713 PAB checked through the state’s computers.
Minutes later, as Deputy Fox approached the Cadillac, she was shot twice, and died quickly near her vehicle, on the highway just east of Delta.
Federal prosecutors spent much of Tuesday trying to disprove the version of events laid out in the 2012 trial.
Utah County Sheriff’s Department Lt., Matt Higley, again took the stand Tuesday. Shortly after Deputy Fox was killed, Higley interviewed Roman in the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office. Roman was taken there after he and another man were found hiding in a shed in a Beaver trailer court.
After Higley read Roman his Miranda Rights, Roman agreed to the interview. The quality of the recording is not good, only about half is understandable, but much can be heard. Roman confessed to killing Deputy Fox. Roman told Higley he was angry he was pulled over, when he was not violating any laws. Roman thought he was being stopped only because he is Mexican.
In the interview with Lt. Higley, Roman said he heard a person approaching his car using an “angry, high-pitched woman voice, ” he even imitated the voice to Lt. Higley. “That’s when it shifted,” Roman told Higley, “and that’s when I knew I had to shoot her.”
When Lt. Higley asked why he used the Ak-47 to kill Deputy Fox, Roman answered by saying the assault rifle “is louder, more powerful.”
Roman said he thought about going back to check on the deputy, but got scared and wanted to get out of there.
Not once in the interview with Higley did Roman mention a third person being present during the drug deal. In fact, Roman told Higley that he got in his car and left the McCornick area before Greathouse got in his pickup and left.
In that interview, Roman also admitted he had threatened to kill a cop if he was pulled over, even though at a later date, Roman said he said it to be “cool.”
During the interview with Lt. Higley, Roman drew a map where he said he hid the AK-47 and a Bersa .380 caliber handgun.
Utah County Sheriff’s Detective, Zachary Adams, was assigned to find the guns. Adams took the stand Tuesday and along with photos, showed where the guns were found and recovered. When a federal prosecutor asked if he had made a mistake, Adams said he had. He forgot to wear latex gloves when handling the weapons.
During cross-examination, Defense attorney, Jeremy Delicino, peppered Adams with questions about why he didn’t wear gloves. Delicino pointed out that keeping a crime scene and evidence pristine is crucial in determining the outcome of a crime.
Retired Utah County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigator, Lee Fox, was also called to testify Tuesday. Fox talked about evidence found in the Beaver tool shed, such as coats, shoes, even ammunition for an AK-47. In cross-examination, defense attorney, Stephen McCaughey, asked Fox why he hadn’t checked any of those personal items for gunshot residue, particles that can help determine if someone has been near a gun. Fox said his task that day was to gather evidence and ship it to the state crime lab. When asked by McCaughey if Roman’s jacket had been tested in the lab, Fox said it had, but that no gunshot residue was found.
Judge David Nuffer, who is overseeing the trial, said he expects a rather short time in court Wednesday, though Thursday looks like a big day. Both sides will present bullet trajectory experts, to discuss evidence about the shots fired on that January morning. Jurors will also get a chance to look over the actual 1995 Cadillac that was used the day of the killing.