The state Supreme Court ruled Friday to uphold the life sentence of a man convicted of killing a Rio Rancho police officer in 2015.
Andrew Romero was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus 60 years in a 2016 trial in Los Lunas for the shooting death of 49-year-old officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner.
“I think we’re satisfied with the decision and we are grateful that the victims can now be secure in the judgment, that justice has been done in this particular case and now they don’t have to worry anymore,” said Lemuel Martinez, district attorney for the 13th Judicial District.
Romero appealed a slew of his convictions on various grounds, including the trial venue should not have been in the Albuquerque metropolitan area and that jurors may have been exposed to media coverage of the shooting prior to the trial.
The Supreme Court upheld all of Romero’s convictions except for shooting at or from a motor vehicle. That conviction was vacated on double jeopardy grounds.
“The double jeopardy clause protects defendant from being punished both for the murder of officer Benner and for causing great bodily harm to officer Benner by shooting from a motor vehicle, where both convictions were predicated on defendant’s unitary act of shooting officer Benner,” Justice Gary Clingman wrote in the court’s opinion.
Romero shot Benner multiple times after the officer pulled Romero and his girlfriend over for a questionable license plate near Southern and Pinetree in Rio Rancho.
The pair had been on a robbery spree and robbed a gas station just hours after Benner was shot.