Judge: Some criminal history allowed as evidence in accused cop killer’s trial

Andrew Romero
Andrew Romero

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The man accused of ambushing and killing a Rio Rancho police officer was in court Tuesday morning as prosecutors told a judge why his criminal past needs to play a crucial role in his upcoming trial.

Prosecutors asked a judge Tuesday if new evidence can be used during Andrew Romero’s trial — specifically a string of armed robberies before and after the murder of Officer Gregg Benner.

Prosecutors told a judge that Romero is accused of a string of armed robberies in Albuquerque in the days and hours leading up to Officer Benner’s death.

“He knew that he was wanted,” said Ron Lopez, said Chief Deputy District Attorney.

Romero is charged with Officer Benner’s murder during a traffic stop last May. Prosecutors said the robberies should be brought up at trial because it shows Romero killed the Rio Rancho officer in an effort to escape arrest.

The defense told the judge the armed robberies are separate crimes and they’re just trying to paint Romero as a menace to society.

“A robbery committed seven hours prior to prove the intent to murder a police officer, that’s absurd,” said Defense Attorney, Tom Clark.

In the end, the judge met both sides in the middle, saying armed robberies that happened the day Officer Benner was shot could be brought up, but the ones that happened days before could not.

Romero is also accused of saying he wanted to shoot down an APD helicopter at the time of his arrest. And then he’s accused of later bragging about how he wanted to quote, “Kill as many APD pigs as he could if he ever got out of jail.”

“Whether or not Mr. Romero said mean things about police afterwards, is totally irrelevant,” said Clark.

In the end, the judge said the threat against officers was off limits. But when it comes to the helicopter comment, he’ll decide if it can be brought up during trial as evidence comes in.

Romero is accused of another armed robbery in Albuquerque five hours after Officer Benner was killed. The judge said that could be brought up at his trial, which is set for September.

 

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