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Man charged with murdering deputy was angry he was pulled over, officer testifies

FILLMORE — Roberto Miramontes Roman was on edge well before Millard County sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox pulled him over.

As Roman and Ryan Greathouse took a drive and smoked some methamphetamine, Roman told him that if a car they could see in the distance turned out to be a police vehicle, he planned to open fire, testified Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Higley.

"He made statements that he would shoot at police officers, that it would not be a good night to be a police officer," Higley said Roman told him in an interview.

The two parted ways, and Fox, Ryan Greathouse's younger sister, initiated a traffic stop on Roman's vehicle within minutes. She was found dead in the roadway soon after by her patrol sergeant.

Fourth District Judge Donald Eyre on Tuesday ordered Roman, 38, to stand trial for capital murder in Fox's death. Prosecutors have filed notice that they intend to seek the death penalty.

Higley said Roman also told him that he became angry when he realized that he was being followed by a police officer, but he took care to stay in his lane and follow the speed limit. When the police officer turned on her emergency lights, Roman apparently snapped.

"He said he became very angry," Higley said. "He thought the reason he was being stopped was because he was Mexican. He pulled on to the side of the road and said he heard what he described as a mean voice saying 'license and registration.' He said as soon as he saw the officer in the corner of his eye, he raised the gun onto his left shoulder and fired two or three rounds."

The weapon was an AK-47.

It wasn't until Fox screamed that Roman even realized the police officer was a woman, according to what he told Higley. The sergeant said Roman left the scene immediately, but considered going back to call 911. He eventually decided that the officer would be able to use her radio to get the help she needed.

But Fox died soon after being shot twice in the chest, chief medical examiner for Utah Todd Grey testified. He said that while neither shot was instantly lethal, both caused serious injuries that would have become fatal in minutes. When Millard County Sheriff's Sgt. Rhett Kimball found Fox's body, he said there was no sign of life.

Defense attorney Steve McCaughey said he does not believe Roman knew at the time of the shooting that Fox and Greathouse were siblings.

Roman sat attentively in court Tuesday, eyeing with interest those family members who came to support him, the officers who came to present evidence against him and the attorneys appointed to defend him.

Just one row behind him, Fox's mother wiped away tears while hearing testimony about the fatal injuries that led to her daughter's death.

Law enforcement officers recounted the early morning hours of Jan. 5 when Kimball, the patrol sergeant on the graveyard shift, spotted two suspicious vehicles about a mile east of Delta, where there had been a recent string of home burglaries and trailer thefts. He testified that he had a "good idea" that one of the vehicles belonged to Ryan Greathouse, but was unsure who was in the second vehicle.

After what appeared to be a meeting between the occupants of the vehicles, both cars drove away in different directions. Kimball told Fox to try to identify the other vehicle as it headed toward Delta on U.S. 50 while he went to check on what he believed to be a burglary in progress. Fox stopped the Cadillac DeVille about 1 a.m. and called in the license plate number to dispatchers. Kimball ran on a check on the vehicle as well and when it was discovered that the vehicle was registered to Ruben Chavez Reyes, he told Fox to stop the vehicle.

He then drove to Fox's location, where he found only her vehicle, emergency lights activated. When he pulled up alongside her car, he said he found Fox lying in the road.

Detective Richard Jacobson said he was then asked to question Ryan Greathouse, who told them that he had purchased drugs from a man he knew only as "Rob" earlier that morning. He gave police the phone number, and they were able to trace it to Roman through his cell phone service provider.

Prescription pills with Roman's name on them were later found in the Cadillac. Roman was charged with murder within 10 hours of the shooting, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was found in a shed in Beaver with Chavez-Reyes the following day.

Both men submitted to police interviews, but the recordings of the interviews are almost inaudible. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys are working to enhance the recording.

Chavez-Reyes, 36, has been ordered to stand trial on charges of obstruction of justice and burglary, second-degree felonies, and evidence tampering, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, and burglary, third-degree felonies. Higley testified that Chavez-Reyes said he spent the night before the shooting with Roman watching videos, smoking methamphetamine and handling Roman's AK-47 rifle, but had no idea when Roman called him early the next day that he had allegedly gunned down a police officer.

Higley said Roman told him that he called Chavez-Reyes and convinced him to give him a ride after getting his car stuck in a snow bank in Nephi. Roman said it was Chavez-Reyes who gave him the idea to throw the guns out the window, leading to the charge of evidence tampering, though he later drew police a map to show where they could be found.

Both Roman and Chavez-Reyes have been identified as illegal aliens, leading to the additional charges of restricted person in possession of a firearm.

Ryan Greathouse, 40, died in June of an accidental drug overdose. His body was discovered in Las Vegas.

Roman was also ordered to stand trial for additional charges of tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, third-degree felonies.

A status conference has been set in Roman's case for Jan. 3, 2011. It is expected that a trial date will be set at that time.

e-mail: emorgan@desnews.com