Expert: DNA links Andrew Romero to murder weapon

andrew-romero


LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE)  – The trial of accused cop killer Andrew Romero continued Tuesday with more experts for the state taking the stand. It was all about the testing for fingerprints and DNA on the gun prosecutors say was used to kill Rio Rancho Officer Gregg Benner.

A latent fingerprint expert took the stand for the state and testified that he wasn’t able to pull clear fingerprints from a lot of the evidence, including the 9 mm Beretta handgun. That forensic scientist, Jeffrey Smith, who works with the Department of Public Safety, went on to explain why clear prints aren’t always left behind on particular items.

But the state’s second expert of the day testified that the gun and the steering wheel in the Dodge Durango had Romero’s DNA.

“No blood was detected on the 9 mm Beretta handgun.” Forensic Expert Raman Sandhu-Kirmer said. “A DNA mixture of two or more individuals was obtained, to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Andrew Romero is the source of major DNA profile.”

The defense fired back saying that Sandhu-Kirmer could not tell jurors how long or when the skin cells of touch DNA had been on the items.

Tuesday, the state also played incriminating recordings of jail house phone calls.

Rio Rancho Detective, Rick Romero, said he requested all phone calls Andrew Romero made when he was being housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center. He said Bernalillo County Sergeant Nathan Lerner provided him with audio to four phone calls.

Investigators played a small portion of one they say Romero made just weeks after Officer Benner was shot and killed.

Detective Romero identified the voice as Andrew Romero.

In the audio, Romero is heard asking someone to put money into his jail account. Then he asks, “What about what’s her name? Did I really shoot her or no?”

The person on the other end responds, “Yeah, you shot her in the foot.”

The state said the person Romero is referring to in the call is Tabitha Littles. Littles testified last week that she was there the night Romero gunned down Officer Benner and that she was also shot.

Romero’s attorneys were quick to respond and ask Lerner if it’s common for inmates to use other inmates “pin numbers” or “inmate numbers” to make phone calls.

Lerner said he did know of instances of inmates doing so because “they switch numbers to-and-from sometimes because they don’t want people to listen to their phone calls.”

The state is expected to wrap up tomorrow and the defense will start its case.

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