Jury set in beating case | AspenTimes.com

Jury set in beating case

Cinthia Romero, charged in the October 2004 beating of a girl near Independence Pass, is escorted back into the Pitkin County Courthouse Tuesday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

A judge and two attorneys rejected more than two dozen potential jurors on Tuesday before seating a panel to hear the trial of a girl accused of helping beat a runaway girl and leaving her for dead near Independence Pass.It took all day for 9th Judicial District Judge James Boyd, deputy district attorney Andrew Heyl and defense attorney Arnie Mordkin to seat a jury in the trial of Cinthia Romero, 17. Two women were tossed from the jury pool after saying they were prejudiced against Latinos, and one man was rejected because he said he could not give prosecutors an even break in a case in which a juvenile is being tried as an adult for attempted murder.Romero is charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

One prospective juror told the judge in a trembling voice that a couple of Latino men mugged her on the streets of San Francisco in 1989 and she did not believe she could listen impartially to Latino witnesses testifying on behalf of a Latina woman accused of beating up another Latina woman.Another woman said she has worked with “a lot of Latin American people” recently and added, “I think I am prejudiced.”The judge dismissed both women from the jury box.Another potential juror said he was concerned about Romero being tried as an adult.

“I would have to have an overwhelming amount of evidence … given the age of the defendant and the seriousness of the crime” to find the defendant guilty as charged, he told the judge. Police say the two girls, who were both 16 at the time, came to Aspen from California together to meet up with Romero’s boyfriend, Jaime Castro, then 17, whom Romero reportedly met over the Internet. The girls reportedly had run away from their homes, and the three of them allegedly were living with Castro’s mother in Aspen, according to police. The victim, according to her statements to police, told the other two that she wanted to go back to California and was about to turn herself in to the authorities. She told police Castro and Romero lured her into a car with a promise of a bus ticket in October 2004 but then drove her up the pass and beat her with a golf club, leaving her for dead, in order to avoid being discovered by the authorities.After a couple in a passing car found her and brought back to Aspen, the victim spent weeks in a hospital in Grand Junction recovering from severe injuries.

Castro pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and is serving three to six years in a youth detention facility. He is expected to testify for the prosecution in Romero’s trial, which is scheduled to end no later than Nov. 17.The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. today, beginning with opening statements from Heyl and Mordkin.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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