SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Trying a Utah man in federal court for the killing of a sheriff's deputy isn't double jeopardy, even though the defendant was acquitted of the slaying in state court, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Attorneys for 42-year-old Roberto Miramontes Roman argued the judge should toss nine federal charges because a state jury already found enough reasonable doubt in the case to acquit him.
Trying someone twice for the same offense, known as double jeopardy, is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment.
But U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ruled new charges are legal in the death of 37-year-old Josie Greathouse Fox because the federal court system is separate.
Roman claims Fox's brother, Ryan Greathouse, shot and killed her with an AK-47 after she pulled over the men, who had been smoking methamphetamine together.
Ryan Greathouse was found dead in a Las Vegas apartment on April 22, 2010, just a few months after his sister was killed. The Clark County coroner's office said Greathouse, 40, died of an accidental drug overdose and that he had cocaine, heroin, ethanol and methadone in his system.
Before his death, Greathouse told deputies he bought drugs from Ramon and another man shortly before his sister was killed, authorities said.
Roman initially confessed to killing Fox but professed his innocence during a 2012 trial.
A state jury found enough reasonable doubt in the case to acquit him in the slaying. But jurors convicted Roman of two other charges: tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.
He was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Roman was indicted on 11 federal counts last year, including the intentional killing of a police officer.
His attorney, Jeremy Delicino, asked the judge to dismiss all but two charges, distributing methamphetamine and illegally entering the country.
He argued the federal government expressed no interest in prosecuting Roman until he was acquitted of murder, and it is seeking a "do-over."
Roman has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
No new hearings were immediately scheduled in the case.