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Alleged shooter in woman’s death is indicted by a grand jury

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A state grand jury has indicted a man on murder, burglary and attempted armed robbery charges stemming from the Nov. 19, 2019, fatal shooting of a West Side woman as she was leaving her house to go the gym.

Luis Talamantes-Romero

The indictment of Luis Talamantes-Romero was issued seven months after the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed initial murder charges in state court against him in the death of Jacqueline Vigil, the mother of two New Mexico State Police officers.

The indictment moves the state prosecution forward and court records show Talamantes-Romero now is represented by an attorney, who couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.

Talamantes-Romero, 33, has been held on federal illegal reentry charges in Texas since January 2020, after he allegedly fled New Mexico following Vigil’s shooting and began living in San Antonio, Texas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico intervened just as Talamantes-Romero was set to be sentenced last year after he pleaded guilty to illegal reentry for the fourth time. Federal prosecutors are asking a U.S. district judge in Texas to impose an enhanced sentence of 20 years for the illegal reentry offense, citing Talamantes-Romero’s alleged role in the Vigil slaying.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez had said last year he would hold off until the federal sentence was imposed before pursuing the state case against Talamantes-Romero in Albuquerque.

In May, U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam of San Antonio, Texas, held a hearing in which he asked about the progress of the murder prosecution in Albuquerque. He also voiced concern about ruling on the murder allegation in the illegal reentry case before Talamantes-Romero was tried in Albuquerque. Pulliam will consider the issue again Sept. 7.

In the state indictment made public Monday, Talamantes-Romero, a Mexican national, faces one count of first-degree murder, and two counts of aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon. One of those counts alleges he entered Vigil’s “dwelling house” with intent to commit theft once inside, while another count states he attempted to commit armed robbery, but failed.

An FBI-led investigation into the slaying contended that evidence showed that, prior to the shooting, Talamantes-Romero and another man were lurking in her neighborhood looking for opportunities to burglarize vehicles when Vigil, driving a Cadillac sedan, began pulling out of her home’s garage early on the morning of Nov. 19, 2019. He is alleged to have run up to her car, shooting her through the driver’s side window.

The indictment alleges that, that same day, Talamantes-Romero committed aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon involving a 2004 Cadillac owned by a different person.

He is also charged with tampering with evidence, conspiracy, receiving or possessing a firearm as a felon, and larceny. That charge stems from a criminal investigation that found that, on the day of the shooting, Talamantes-Romero’s Jeep Cherokee got a flat tire and he allegedly stole a tire from a similar vehicle parked nearby.

A man believed to have been with Talamantes-Romero in the Jeep at the time of the murder, but who wasn’t involved in the shooting, took a plea deal last year and agreed to testify against him.

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