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Man once acquitted of murdering deputy headed to trial in federal court

Man once acquitted of murdering deputy headed to trial in federal court

(Steve Griffin, Pool, File)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A man once acquitted in state court of murdering a Millard County sheriff's deputy appears headed to trial for the same crime in federal court, though he intends to admit to several lesser charges.

Federal prosecutors have offered Roberto Miramontes Roman a plea deal, but his lawyer said he is unlikely to take it.

"There's an offer that's been made, but I don't think anything is going to happen. I think we're going to trial in a couple of weeks," defense attorney Steve McCaughey said after a brief hearing in U.S. District Court Wednesday.

Neither McCaughey nor prosecutors would talk about the details of the plea offer. A two-week jury trial is scheduled to start Jan. 23.

"He's always maintained he didn't kill that police officer, and he still maintains that," McCaughey said.

Roman, however, plans to plead guilty to illegal possession of a firearm as a former inmate, possessing a firearm while in the country illegally and entering the country illegally. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead set a hearing for Thursday.

In August of 2012, a jury in state court found Roman not guilty of aggravated murder but convicted him of tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon in connection with the January 2010 shooting that killed Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox. He's serving a 10-year prison sentence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office then sought charges against Roman in federal court. A federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment against Roman in 2013, including a charge of intentionally killing a local law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of official duties.

Defense lawyers argued that the new charges amount to double jeopardy. A federal judge and a federal appeals court rejected those claims.

Roman's brothers raised the issue again Wednesday outside the courthouse.

"They're forcing him to say that he's guilty of something that he didn't commit that he's already been tried for. This is obviously bullcrap," Mike Roman said.

Freddy Roman said prosecutors simply changed the name of the crime to bring new charges.

"They want to do it all over again. So how many times are they going to do it?" he said.

Though Roberto Roman once confessed to killing Fox during a traffic stop, he changed his story when he took the stand in 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.

Ryan Greathouse died of an accidental drug overdose 4 ½ months after his sister was killed. Prosecutors disputed Roman's claim that Greathouse shot his sister, saying Roman was conveniently blaming a dead man.

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Dennis Romboy

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