SPANISH FORK — Much of the evidence that will be used against Roberto Miramontes Roman came from the man himself, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
Roman, 40, is charged with aggravated murder for the shooting death of Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox. His trial began Monday after a six-man, four-woman jury was selected to decide his fate.
Prosecutor Pat Finlinson described the early morning hours of Jan. 5, 2010, when Fox, 37, was killed. Fox had the distinction of being Millard County's first female patrol officer.
"That career started late and ended early," he said of the deputy's time in law enforcement, as she was shot "by two bullets from an AK-47 rifle while on a traffic stop."
When her supervisor arrived soon after, Finlinson described how the man would find Fox lying on the road in a pool of blood. The last words anyone heard Fox utter was her report to dispatch that she was exiting her vehicle.
"It was the last thing anyone heard from deputy Fox except for maybe her killer," Finlinson said.
The prosecutor recounted how there had been a string of thefts and robberies in the small community of McCornick, leading to a patrol of that area. Fox's supervisor, Millard County Sheriff's Sgt. Rhett Kimball, saw two vehicles in the distance stop briefly. He later identified one of the cars as belonging to Fox's brother, Ryan Greathouse. He asked Fox to keep an eye out for the other, a 1995 Cadillac with the license plate number 713PAB.
Fox stopped the vehicle soon after. According to Finlinson, Roman admitted to police detectives that he shot and killed the deputy and had told Ryan Greathouse earlier that if he were stopped by police, he would open fire.
"In that interview, Roberto Roman told detectives that he shot a police officer," Finlinson told the jury. "He told them why he shot the police officer. He told those detectives how he shot a police officer and he showed them. He said he knew it was a girl and that she screamed."
Finlinson also said Roman told police that he considered going back to help the officer or at least call for help, but he decided against it. Roman told police where to find the firearms he later disposed of and how he and a co-defendant tried to avoid arrest, the prosecutor said.
"Most of the evidence in this case came from what this defendant told (detectives)," Finlinson said. But he noted there was also physical evidence that supported Roman's account of the incident.
Roman's defense attorneys reserved their opening statements until later in the trial.
In addition to aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, Roman is also charged with tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, third-degree felonies.
Roman was originally facing the possibility of the death penalty, but 4th District Judge Donald Eyre determined that Roman is "mentally retarded" and ineligible to receive a death sentence. The judge's decision came after multiple examinations and a two-day hearing on the matter.2 comments on this story
According to evidence from a previous hearing, Roman was taking a drive and smoking methamphetamine with Ryan Greathouse that day. Roman allegedly told police that he was angry when Fox pulled him over because he had taken care to stay in his lane and follow the speed limit. Believing he was being stopped "because he was Mexican," Roman reportedly told police he caught a glimpse of the deputy and immediately started shooting, according to court testimony.
Roman and co-defendant Ruben Chavez-Reyes drove as far as Salt Lake City after the incident before they were eventually arrested in a shed in Beaver. Chavez-Reyes, 39, was convicted by a jury of obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, as well as burglary and tampering with evidence, third-degree felonies, and was sentenced to prison.
Ryan Greathouse was found dead in a Las Vegas bedroom a few months after the shooting.
Roman's trial is scheduled to continue through Aug. 24.