|Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox|
SPANISH FORK, UT — A man accused of murdering Millard County sheriff's deputy no longer faces a possible death sentence.
Roberto Miramontes Roman, 40, is charged with capital murder, accused of shooting and killing deputy Josie Greathouse Fox during a traffic stop near Delta in 2010. Fox, 37, was shot twice in the chest. But a judge has determined that Roman is "mentally retarded" and ineligible to receive the death penalty.
Final arrangements were made Tuesday for Roman's two-week trial, which is set to begin Aug. 13. If convicted, Roman could have received the death penalty. But after multiple examinations and a two-day hearing on the matter, 4th District Judge Donald Eyre determined the man was "mentally retarded."
In his decision, Eyre cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined that defendants who have mental retardation cannot be executed under the eighth amendment. The judge referred to the testimony of one psychologist who determined Roman was "an outlier in his family" who required additional help and support "because he was seen as impaired," the ruling states.
Another doctor said two informants reported that Roman may have been born with perinatal anoxia, in which oxygen is cut off to the infant during the birthing process.
Eyre quoted another psychologist who noted that someone who is "mentally retarded" may not have an obvious impairment and may still drive, work and gain an education, but found that Roman's frontal lobes were "deficient, which in turn explains his lack of reasoning and impulse control."
A number of tests indicated Roman has a low IQ and low academic functioning levels. The judge said that while Roman's IQ score was a 71, one point above the sometimes-used cutoff point of 70, he had other concerns.
"The court finds that the defendant has still demonstrated that his deficits in general intellectual functioning are significant," the ruling states.
Noting various doctors' reports, adaptive functioning problems, reasoning and impulse control deficits and after sorting through other factors, Eyre determined Roman is, in fact, "mentally retarded" and removed the death penalty as a possible sentence. Prosecutors later withdrew their notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
On Jan. 5, 2010, Roman was taking a drive and smoking methamphetamine with Fox's brother, Ryan Greathouse, when he saw a car in the distance and said he planned to open fire if it was a police vehicle, according to court testimony. Greathouse exited the vehicle and, soon after, Fox initiated a traffic stop.
Roman allegedly told police that he was angry he was pulled over when he took care to stay in his lane and follow the speed limit. Believing he was being stopped "because he was Mexican," Roman reportedly told police he caught a glimpse of the police officer and immediately started shooting, according to court testimony.
Ryan Greathouse was found dead in a Las Vegas bedroom a few months after the shooting.
In addition to aggravated murder, Roman also faces charges of tampering with evidence and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person in connection with Fox's death.