Romero to spend four more years in prison | AspenTimes.com
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Romero to spend four more years in prison

Chad Abraham

The California teenager who played a role in the beating of her friend on Independence Pass in 2004 will spend the next four years in state prison.A jury convicted Cinthia Romero, 17, in November of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. The Bakersfield, Calif., resident faced eight to 24 years in prison.Judge James Boyd suspended the sentence for the attempted murder conviction and sentenced her to five years in the Colorado Department of Corrections on the assault charge. He gave her credit for 480 days of time served.The remaining term will allow the court system to monitor how Romero is doing and whether the sentence for attempted murder is necessary, Boyd said. Romero will appear in court again on April 5, 2010, for that assessment.The judge noted that Romero’s case contained both mitigating and aggravating circumstances.The victim ran away from home with Romero after Romero met Jaime Castro of Aspen online. Once in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 17-year-old victim said she felt ignored and wanted to return to California.Castro and Romero told her they would arrange for a bus ticket for the return trip. But Romero was scared it would expose her being in Aspen and ruin her relationship with Castro, prosecutor Gail Nichols said.The two drove the victim up Independence Pass, where they told her to get out. The girl was beaten with a golf club and left on the side of Highway 82. Good Samaritans took her into town and called police.”Look at the reason for the beating,” said Nichols, who argued in favor of a 16-year term, eight years for each conviction.This was a “very, very serious crime,” she said. “The victim easily could have died.”The victim was hospitalized for a month with a skull fracture and other injuries.Nichols also noted that the jury found Romero was present at the scene, although it ruled she did not actually strike any of the blows. Romero has not accepted any responsibility for the crime and maintains she was asleep at home, Nichols said.The victim said Romero participated with Castro in the assault. Castro was sentenced to 14 years after reaching an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to first-degree assault. He will have that term suspended if he completes five years in a youth-offender program.While the victim and a police report said Romero hit the victim, “the jury found she did not,” Romero’s attorney, Arnie Mordkin, said pointedly.Nichols, who left office when a new district attorney took over in 2005 but has since returned, did not hear Castro’s “chilling testimony” during his trial, Mordkin said.Castro’s statements were some of “the most cold, chilling things I’ve ever heard anyone say,” he said.Mordkin also said there was no evidence the assault was Romero’s idea. Nichols said state prison will provide plenty of rehabilitation and other sources of support, but Mordkin questioned that.”Prison is prison. You get locked up with all sorts of people,” he said.He noted the five-year sentence of Castro, who he called the real perpetrator, and questioned the fairness of his client’s treatment.Mordkin said Romero, who declined to speak to Boyd before sentencing, lived a hard life on the streets. He asked for a suspension of the sentence for the attempted murder conviction and that she serve two years on the assault charge. Boyd said her age and prior hardships provided some mitigation to her sentence and said the comparison between her sentence and Castro’s was relevant. Plus, Romero has responded favorably to rehabilitation since she’s been incarcerated.But he said Romero’s conviction was for a much more serious charge and noted the victim’s age.Romero tried “to silence” the victim because she did not want to go back to California, Boyd said, calling that a “weak motive [that] was so devastating.” He also said Romero knew the victim.”The situation you’ve put yourself in pulls in some different directions,” Boyd said.The case’s “resolution depends on how you conduct yourself” during the five years in prison, the judge said.Romero must also serve five years of parole upon her release and pay $2,792.97 in restitution.Mordkin said after the hearing that he was “delighted” with the sentence. Romero “could have gone away for a long time,” he said.The victim will be notified of the sentence, Nichols said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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