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Attorneys for man accused of shooting Utah deputy asks for case dismissal

Published April 30, 2014 7:25 pm

Courts • They say his acquittal for murder in state court makes case double jeopardy.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Attorneys for Roberto Miramontes Roman — who was acquitted in state court of aggravated murder — have asked a judge to dismiss a federal court case against the man, arguing that charges related to the killing a Millard County Sheriff's deputy during a 2010 traffic stop amounts to double jeopardy.

"Not guilty," the motion to dismiss begins. "Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty. One by one, all eight jurors polled by the trial judge pronounced the verdict in State of Utah v. Roberto Miramontes Roman."

On August 17, 2012, Roman was acquitted of aggravated murder in the killing of Josie Greathouse Fox.

But roughly a year later, a federal grand jury indicted the man on charges that he intentionally killed a law enforcement officer and committed other crimes leading up to and related to the shooting of Fox in January 2010.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Roman's attorneys argue that their client has either been convicted or acquitted in district court of all of the federal court charges and should not be facing them again.

"Little did Mr. Roman or any of the jurors know that the [Aug. 17] proceedings during which the rest of Roman's life was at stake would be more properly characterized as a trial run than a jury trial," defense attorney Jeremy Delicino wrote in the motion.

When the 11-count indictment was returned in September, David Barlow, U.S. Attorney for Utah, said filing federal charges was not a do-over of the district court trial, but rather was an indication that federal interests were not resolved in state court proceedings against Roman.

"The state government and federal government are always free to pursue their own prosecutions," he said during a news conference.

Roman's attorneys said in their motion that federal prosecutors are relying on the "dual sovereignty exception" to the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause. They argue that this exception is highly criticized by legal experts and is unconstitutional.

"The comfort provided by the finality of a verdict is purely illusory if the dual sovereignty exception permits one governmental entity to ignore the outcome of a trial by another," the motion reads.

Roman allegedly initially confessed to killing Fox after she pulled over his vehicle around 1 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2010. He later recanted and, during his state court trial, claimed another man — the deputy's brother — shot Fox with an AK-47. Deputies had been tailing the two for several hours as part of a drug investigation.

Fox's brother, Ryan Greathouse, committed suicide in 2010 and never testified in the case.

A 4th District Court jury acquitted Roman of the aggravated murder charge for allegedly killing Fox, but found him guilty of two lesser third-degree felonies — tampering with evidence and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He was sentenced in October 2012 to two consecutive zero-to-five-year prison terms.

Roman has pleaded not guilty to federal charges, which include one count of killing a law enforcement officer while fleeing apprehension on a drug violation, one count of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence (killing Fox), three counts of distribution of methamphetamine, three counts of possession of a firearm while drug trafficking, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts related to immigration violations.

He faces a potential life sentence on several of the counts if convicted, including the allegation that he killed Fox. Several of the firearm charges also carry potential penalties of life in prison.

A one-week trial is scheduled to begin in November.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller