SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - In day 3 of USA vs. Roman at Salt Lake City’s federal courthouse on Wednesday, jurors heard from a friend of the late Ryan Greathouse, Deputy Josie Fox’s brother, and a friend of Roberto Miramontes Roman, who is accused of killing Deputy Fox.
Roman is accused in an eleven count federal indictment of killing Deputy Fox on Jan. 5, 2010. In a 2012 state trial, Roman was found not guilty of killing Deputy Fox. The jury had reasonable doubt to convict Roman after he stunned the 4th District Court in Spanish Fork by claiming Greathouse killed his sister, Deputy Fox. Roman claimed he took the blame for the killing because Greathouse had threatened to hurt or kill his family members if he didn’t. Greathouse died of a drug overdose in Las Vegas three months after Deputy Fox was killed.
The first witness to take the stand Wednesday for the government was Tiffaney Edwards. The Fillmore resident said Ryan Greathouse was her best friend. She told the court she was in prison on a parole violation the night Deputy Fox was killed, but she got out about a week later and had spent a lot of time with Greathouse since her release.
Edwards testified that on the day of a memorial event for Deputy Fox at Delta High School’s Palladium, she was with Greathouse because she had promised his mother she would make sure Greathouse attended the memorial. Edwards testified that on that day, Greathouse had told her “he felt guilty that Josie had passed away because he had traded the gun to Roberto for drugs.” Much of the trial has focused on evidence and testimony that Greathouse had given Roman an AK-47 assault rifle as collateral for methamphetamine Roman had sold him.
Roman’s defense team had tried to keep Edwards’ statement and testimony out of the proceedings, because she admitted Greathouse was “really drunk” when he made the statement. Chief Judge David Nuffer, who is overseeing the trial, ruled that the statement and Edward’s testimony would be allowed. The judge found that the statement and the witness were credible, and that the statement was incriminating to Greathouse, and he felt the circumstances in which Greathouse made the statement made it trustworthy. The judge added that it would be up to the jury to decide.
The prosecution also called Ruben Chavez Reyes to the stand. Reyes is serving prison time in Gunnison for convictions of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence in the original investigation of Deputy Fox’s death.
Reyes testified that early in the morning after Deputy Fox’s death, Roman had called him and said he needed help. Reyes had loaned Roman his 1995 Cadillac, and Roman had driven the car into a snowbank near Nephi. Reyes said Roman wanted a ride to his cousin’s house in Salt Lake City. When Reyes asked why not just come back to Fillmore, he said Roman told him, “I can’t, I just killed a cop.”
Reyes admitted on the stand Wednesday that he had lied about his involvement and knowledge of the crime at least five times in interviews and in court. He said he told federal prosecutors the truth for the first time on Friday, January 27, 2017.
Defense attorney, Jeremy Delicino, cross-examined Reyes, and had him admit on the record he had lied five times. Delcino pointed out that Reyes has an appointment before the Board of Pardons in mid-February, and accused him of changing his story to get a favorable ruling from the Board. Reyes said that wasn’t true and that he already has a release date. Reyes said if his testimony helps him get an earlier release date, that would be fine.
Delcino also referred to recent phone calls Reyes’ girlfriend, Angelina, had made to the prison. He played a short clip of one of the calls in court. In the call, Angelina, appeared to be coaching Reyes on what to say at the trial, in order to get a positive letter from prosecutors to the Parole Board.
Delcino also took exception with Reyes’ claim that Roman told him he had killed a cop. Delcino said Roman was speaking Spanish at the time and said “Se quebraron a un policia.” Directly translated that means “They broke a cop” in Spanish, but is slang for “killed a cop.” Delcino interprets that as meaning more than one person killed a cop. In redirect, a federal prosecutor asked Reyes what Roman said that night by the Cadillac near Nephi, and Reyes responded that Roman meant “He killed a cop.”
Prosecutors also called Utah County Sheriff’s Sargent, Melissa Stout. She had attended the Police Academy with Deputy Fox, and was called to the Medical Examiner’s office to identify the victim, and to put all of the evidence in an evidence locker.
The government also called Jeff Bryant, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency as an expert witness. Bryant testified that he had read text messages between Roman and Greathouse the night Deputy Fox was killed.
The text from Roman said “Yes, there is one 3.5 engine for $250,” and after he gets it from “his guy,” he’d meet Greathouse in McCornick.
Agent Bryant said those are words used in a typical drug deal. He said the 3.5 refers to grams, and engine is a word commonly used to describe meth. Agent Bryant said that in rural Utah in 2010, 3.5 grams of methamphetamine would’ve sold for between $175 and $350.
On Thursday, jurors will be taken to the garage at the federal courthouse to inspect the 1995 gray Cadillac, from which prosecutors say Roman shot Deputy Fox, and the defense says Greathouse shot her. Both sides will also call ballistics experts to testify about bullet trajectory patterns.
Roman is expected to take the stand Friday.
Judge Nuffer said there’s a chance closing arguments could be given on Monday, and the case could go to the jury after that.