RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Last month a jury found Andrew Romero guilty in the murder of Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg Benner. A week later a judge sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole; now prosecutors want the same judge to throw in another 40 years.
Sandoval County Deputy District Attorney Barbara Romo said the state is just making sure it’s covering all its bases in the case against Romero, so he has no chance of ever getting out of prison.
“This is an individual that when he assaulted and killed a police officer, it was really an assault on the entire community,” Romo said. “We want to make sure that he’s sentenced to every day that’s possible under the law.”
Earlier this month the state requested what’s called a “supplemental criminal information” hearing with Judge George Eichwald. The state plans to list Romero’s prior felony convictions starting in 2006 to help prove he’s a habitual offender. Some of the convictions include voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and one for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
If the judge agrees he is, according to Romo, Romero faces an additional 40 years for the lesser charges connected to Officer Benner’s murder.
“Because Judge Eichwald ruled the lesser charges will run consecutive, based on his prior felony convictions, each of those will be enhanced by an additional eight years,” Romo said.
Romo said this is also about sending a big message.
“This will make people think twice about coming to our community to commit armed robbery, shoot and assault police officers,” she said.
The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, 2016, in Rio Rancho.