SALT LAKE CITY — A man acquitted in state court of murdering a Millard County sheriff's deputy wants the federal charges against him for the same crime dropped because he says they amount to double jeopardy.
An attorney for Roberto Miramontes Roman argues in a new filing in U.S. District Court that the government wants a "do-over" for what it believes the jury got wrong the first time.
"Little did Mr. Roman or any of the jurors know that the proceedings during which the rest of Roman's life was at stake would be more properly characterized as a trial run than a jury trial," Jeremy Delicino wrote in a motion to dismiss the case.
An eight-person jury found Roman not guilty of aggravated murder, but convicted him for tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon in connection with the Jan. 5, 2010, shooting that killed deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, 37. He is serving a 10-year prison term.
When sentencing Roman on those charges in October 2012, 5th District Judge Donald Eyre told him: "At least in my opinion, you got away with murder."
A federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment against Roman last September, including a charge of intentionally killing a local law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of official duties.
Delicino said federal prosecutors had no interest in the case until the state court acquitted Roman. He contends the government is relying on a legal doctrine "unknown to most and anathema to many" to charge Roman.
"Only by eliminating the dual sovereignty exception can courts remain faithful to the ideals of the Constitution," he wrote. "And only in a Kafkaesque creation could a jury’s verdict suffice to execute Roman but not be enough to exonerate him."
...the proceedings during which the rest of Roman's life was at stake would be more properly characterized as a trial run than a jury trial.
–Jeremy Delicino, defense attorney
When he announced the indictment last fall, U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow said the new charges are not double jeopardy.
"The state government and the federal government are always free to pursue their own prosecutions, and very often they don't because a determination is made that both are met in a particular prosecution. That wasn't the case here," Barlow said at the time.
Though he once confessed to killing Fox during a traffic stop, Roman took the witness stand in his own defense during his trial and said it was actually the deputy's brother, Ryan Greathouse, who shot and killed her. He said Greathouse didn't realize it was his sister until after the shooting and then threatened Roman, forcing him to confess.
The state government and the federal government are always free to pursue their own prosecutions.
–David Barlow, U.S. Attorney for Utah
It's undisputed that Greathouse and Roman were smoking methamphetamine together the night Fox was killed. The AK-47 used in the shooting had Roman's fingerprints on it, but he said it was because he had handled the weapon before Greathouse reached across him and pulled the trigger.
Jurors later said the lack of evidence on Ryan Greathouse made it difficult to convict Roman "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Greathouse died of an accidental drug overdose 4 ½ months after his sister was killed. Prosecutors sought to admit a statement he wrote on the night of his sister's death, which they say would have corroborated their theory and disproved Roman's, but the judge deemed it inadmissible hearsay evidence.
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