SALT LAKE CITY — A man whom a state jury acquitted last year of murdering a Millard County sheriff's deputy now faces charges for the same crime in federal court.
A federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment Thursday against Roberto Miramontes Roman, including a charge of intentionally killing a local law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of official duties.
U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow said the new charge does not amount to 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," he said.
Though found not guilty of aggravated murder in state court, Roman is serving a 10-year prison sentence 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.
In sentencing Roman on those charges last October, 5th District Judge Donald Eyre told him: "At least in my opinion, you got away with murder."
Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker said he supports the new prosecution but, on Thursday, he would not second-guess the jury's decision to acquit Roman.
"The state jury did what they felt like was right at that particular time, and it's not my job to attack what they did or didn't do. I just won't go there," he said.
Last year, however, the sheriff said he believed Roman "got away with murder" and said the "very system Fox died protecting failed her."
Though he once confessed to killing Fox during a traffic stop, Roman, 41, took the 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.
That Greathouse and Roman were smoking methamphetamine together the night Fox was killed is undisputed. 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 Greathouse made it difficult to convict Roman "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Possible Charges for Roberto Miramontes Roman:
- Three counts of distributing methamphetamine
- Three counts of possessing an AK-47 or Bersa.380 handgun in a drug-trafficking crime
- Using an AK-47 in a violent crime
- Illegal possession of a firearm as a former inmate
- Possessing a firearm while in the country illegally
- Entering the country illegally
Barlow would not discuss evidence presented to the federal grand jury or how prosecutors would overcome the possibility that Greathouse might have pulled the trigger.
"We obviously are aware of what has been said and done in the state investigation and prosecution," he said. In addition to that, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have done their own investigations for the federal case.
Greathouse, 40, died of an accidental drug overdose 4 ½ months after his sister was killed. Prosecutors sought to admit a statement Greathouse 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.
Barlow said the intentional killing charge relates directly to the fact that Roman tried to avoid apprehension for a felony drug crime. That charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
The other charges include: three counts of distributing methamphetamine; three counts of possessing an AK-47 or Bersa .380 handgun in a drug-trafficking crime; using an AK-47 in a violent crime; illegal possession of a firearm as a former inmate; possessing a firearm while in the country illegally; and entering the country illegally.
The charges against Roman came the day before a funeral for the state's latest fallen police officer.
Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson drove up on a Volvo parked in an unusual way at 13200 S. Fort St. about 6 a.m. Sunday. Before he got out of his vehicle, he was shot multiple times. The alleged shooter remains hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Contributing: Andrew Wittenberg