Attorneys for the man accused of fatally shooting Millard County Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox last year want the trial moved to another county.
Roberto Miramontes Roman, 38, is charged in 4th District Court with capital murder and two other felonies for allegedly killing the 37-year-old deputy during a 1 a.m. traffic stop on Jan. 5, 2010.
The defense filed several pre-trial motions last week, including one saying the trial must be moved from Millard County due to the severe nature of the alleged crime, the small size of the community, the widespread publicity surrounding the case and the fact that the victim was a well-known and well-respected peace officer.
Defense attorneys Stephen McCaughey and Jeremy Delicino insist “it is clear that Millard County is not a suitable venue because of the potential for prejudice ...”
McCaughey told The Tribune he would prefer to hold the trial in Salt Lake County.
The defense also asked the judge to empanel two separate juries — one for the guilt/innocence phase of the trial and another for the penalty phase — to avoid bias against Roman.
Death qualification involves excluding those jurors who have scruples about imposing the death penalty. But the defense motion claims that jurors willing to impose the death penalty also may be “less than neutral with respect to guilt.”
Prosecutors said the defense request for separate juries is fairly standard and has never been granted.
Roman has a tentative trial date of Oct. 17 before Judge Donald Eyre.
The trial for Roman’s friend and accomplice, Ruben Chavez-Reyes, 37, was held in neighboring Juab County. Chavez-Reyes was convicted of obstructing justice, burglary and evidence tampering and sentenced to prison for up to 15 years.
According to trial and preliminary hearing testimony, Fox had stopped Roman’s car because the vehicle was allegedly involved in a drug deal minutes earlier.
When Fox walked up and demanded his license and registration, Roman pointed the barrel of an AK-47 out his driver-side window and fired, he later told police.
Roman also told police, according to testimony, that he grew angry at being pulled over because he thought “the only reason he was stopped was he was Mexican.”
Roman, who was driving a car belonging to Chavez-Reyes, fled north but crashed the car into a snowbank near Nephi. Chavez-Reyes picked him up in another car and they drove to Salt Lake City.
They abandoned the car in Salt Lake City and headed south by TRAX light rail to Sandy, took a bus to Provo and hired a car for $300 to get them to Beaver, where they were arrested Jan. 6 while sleeping in a tool shed, according to testimony.