Suspects in teen beating case go before judge
The two suspects in the beating of a runaway from California on Independence Pass appeared in an Aspen courtroom for the first time Monday.Jaime Castro, 17, of Aspen, and Cinthia Romero, 16, of Bakersfield, Calif., were brought by van from Hampton, Va., on Sunday. Clad in orange, jail-issue attire, tennis shoes and leg chains, the suspects sat together at the defense table yesterday as District Judge James Boyd advised them of the charges. Public defender Jim Conway represented them at the proceeding.Romero and Castro, who are charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, will be held at separate juvenile facilities in Mesa County. Pitkin County juvenile investigator Bruce Benjamin told Boyd the move was necessary in order to protect the defendants from the adult jail population. They are being charged as adults.In October, they allegedly severely beat a 16-year-old girl with a golf club on Independence Pass and left her to die. She was found by a passing motorist and spent two weeks in a Grand Junction hospital recovering from two skull fractures and other injuries.The girl told investigators she had run away from a foster home in Bakersfield with Romero, who ran away from her mother’s house, according to the arrest warrant. The two came to Aspen because Romero had met Castro on the Internet. She said the suspects beat her because she told them she wanted to go back to California and would turn Romero in, the warrant says.The defendants allegedly fled by bus to Virginia, where they were living together when they were arrested.In court yesterday, Romero and Castro did not exchange words nor look at each other. Conway said the suspects are seeking representation from the public defender’s office. Citing potential conflicts of interest, he said the office would withdraw from representing Romero. It is standard practice when a case involves co-defendants. Boyd will appoint another attorney for her.Their next court appearance will be Feb. 7.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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