2 versions of deputy's death created doubt for jurors
Jury defied 'gut,' 'instinct' and focused on law, forewoman says
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SPANISH FORK — Deciding whether to convict Roberto Miramontes Roman of murdering a sheriff's deputy came down to the basic standards of the justice system, the jury forewoman said.
They reached a not guilty verdict in spite of "gut" or "intuition," relying instead on the presumption of innocence and the instruction that their decision needed to be based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We wanted justice to be served," Nicole Kay said. "It was very difficult for us to come to our verdict of not guilty.
"We all wanted to come out with a verdict of guilty. We all would have thought that was great that somebody would have paid for the murder of Josie Fox. But according to the stipulations we were under and what we were required to do by law, even though we felt that Roberto Roman could have definitely killed her, we didn't have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt."
The majority of the jurors initially believed Roman was guilty of murdering Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, Kay said. But their opinions eventually changed.
"After a lot of deliberation and holding out and me being the last person, we finally had come to the conclusion that there was reasonable doubt in our minds," she said.
After eight hours of deliberation — including a point in time where jurors said they were struggling to reach a consensus — the jury found Roman, 40, not guilty of murder in Fox's death.
Fox, 37, was shot and killed after initiating a traffic stop near Delta on Jan. 5, 2010. Most of the facts about the events surrounding her death were undisputed.
Attorneys on both sides of the case agreed that testimony given in court and the evidence presented supported the basic facts and narrative of events. Roman's trial was really as simple as defense attorney Stephen McCaughey posed it to the jury — the only question was: Who fired the fatal shots that ended the deputy's life?
The day after the shooting, Roman confessed to killing Fox. Yet during his trial 2 ½ years later, he changed his story and testified that the killer was actually Fox's own brother, Ryan Greathouse, who is now dead.
According to police, Greathouse had purchased drugs from Roman just minutes before the shooting death. Fox and another deputy had been watching the suspicious vehicles from a distance because, investigators said, there had been a string of thefts in the area.
Greathouse, 40, died of an accidental drug overdose 4 ½ months after his sister was killed. His body was discovered in the bedroom of a Las Vegas apartment.
"We wanted to know who pulled that trigger," Kay said. "There was such an absence of evidence on Ryan Greathouse and anything on that at all (that) at the end of the day, we couldn't rule out the possibility that it could have happened."
McCaughey said Roman's testimony "is what this case is all about." The defense attorney said he was pleased that the jury that considered all of the evidence.
"I don't know what happened, I just know what my client said happened," McCaughey said following the late night Friday verdict. "He explained why he lied to police to begin with (and) the jury didn't believe there was enough other evidence to convict. The burden of proof is on the state. They put on a lot of evidence — it really didn't show anything."
But for Fox's husband, Doug Fox, the case was much simpler than that.
"(Roman) admitted that he done it," he said. "You know that flat (out) tells you he's guilty."
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