SALT LAKE CITY — More than four years after one jury acquitted him of murdering Josie Greathouse Fox, a federal jury on Tuesday found Roberto Miramontes Roman guilty of shooting and killing the Millard County sheriff's deputy following a 2010 vehicle stop.
Roman, 44, was found guilty of intentionally killing a law enforcement officer and several other charges in a decision handed down shortly before 4 p.m. in U.S. District Court.
The families of both Roman and Fox declined to speak with reporters after the hearing, though the deputy's mother gave a thumbs up and flashed a smile as she exited the courthouse.
Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker said he finally "felt peace" after the verdict was read.
"From the time my phone rang that morning, Jan. 5, (2010), until now, I hadn't felt that," Dekker said. "I feel that now."
Dekker said his sheriff's office contacted federal prosecutors and asked for their help less than 24 hours after Roman was acquitted of murder by a jury in Spanish Fork in August 2012. He was grateful for their work in getting Roman convicted.
"This brings to an end an ugly chapter in law enforcement history in Millard County," Dekker said.
While a video shows Roman admitting to shooting the deputy in the hours after his arrest, during both of his trials, Roman claimed that Ryan Greathouse, Fox's brother, was the man who shot and killed the deputy. Roman said he had sold drugs to Greathouse a short time before and that he was in the car with Greathouse at the time of the shooting.
He claimed Greathouse was devastated after learning he had shot his sister, and that he offered to take the blame after Greathouse threatened to harm his family.
John Huber, U.S. attorney for Utah, characterized Roman's story blaming Greathouse as "diabolical."
"Today, justice was also served in that regard, that this complete and utter fabrication (about Greathouse) was proven and found to be false," Huber said.
Greathouse died of an accidental overdose about four months following Fox's death.
Huber also described Roman as a brazen, career criminal. He said Roman had been deported three times from the United States for various offenses.
"(He) came back to this country, came to one of our pristine ... rural communities, returned to his drug dealing habits, got himself a Cadillac, a pistol and an AK-47 and vowed he would never be taken by police," Huber said.
It was ultimately that AK-47 that Roman fired two shots from through the window of his vehicle, killing Fox near Delta. Roman had received the weapon from Greathouse as payment for meth in a recently completed drug deal, according to prosecutors.
Shortly before the shooting, prosecutors said, Fox and another deputy were surveilling two vehicles — Greathouse's truck and Roman's Cadillac — on reports of possible drug activity. The deputies watched the Cadillac pull up near the truck, after which the truck drove away. Fox ended up following the Cadillac and the other deputy followed the truck.
That deputy later returned to the area and found Fox lying dead in the road. Prosecutors said Greathouse had been spending his day normally when deputies contacted him at his home to tell him his sister had died.
Even though jurors in 2012 acquitted Roman of murder, they found him guilty of tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon and he was sentenced to up to 10 years in the Utah State Prison, where he has been incarcerated.
Stephen McCaughey, Roman's defense attorney, told reporters that he feels his client was subject to unconstitutional double jeopardy, though he acknowledged that the Supreme Court has disagreed.
"I don't think it's fair to try somebody (on) the same facts twice," McCaughey said.
Prosecutors "knew what (Roman's) defense was" due to his claims made on the witness stand in his previous case, so they were able to focus extensively on his prior defense strategy, he said.
McCaughey said the verdict will likely be appealed, but that "an appellate specialist" will likely be hired for that proceeding.
Huber pushed back against McCaughey's claims of double jeopardy in his comments following the hearing.
"There are cases where the federal government shares jurisdiction with the state government," Huber said. "It's called concurrent jurisdiction. ... When this defendant was acquitted by the jury in state court, the federal interests were not vindicated."
Jurors deliberated for about four hours Monday, then reconvened again Tuesday morning before announcing late in the afternoon that they had arrived at a verdict.
In addition to being found guilty Tuesday of intentionally killing Fox, Roman was also found guilty of discharging a firearm in connection with a violent crime, three counts of possessing a firearm in the commission of a drug trafficking crime, and three counts of distributing methamphetamine.
Roman pleaded guilty to three additional counts in the same case earlier this month: re-entering the country after being deported, being in the country illegally and illegally possessing an AK-47 and a handgun.
Roman will be sentenced April 27.
With Roman convicted, Dekker said he hopes all those affected by Fox's death can finally turn all of their attention to remembering the kind of live she lived. He described Fox as a warm person and dedicated deputy who focused especially on serving young people.
"She would help our youth in our community to such a degree that we still get that talked about today — our young people saying, 'Josie helped me,'" he said.