ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The jury has reached a verdict of guilty of murder for all three men accused of torturing and killing two Albuquerque teens in 2018. Stephen Goldman Jr., Julio Almentero, and Jimmie Atkins are charged with the deaths of 15-year-old Colin Romero and 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef in an alleged drug deal gone wrong.
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Earlier today, the judge read the jury’s final verdict. “We find the defendant Stephen Goldman Jr. guilty of felony murder,” says Judge Stan Whitaker. Besides the ringleader, Stephen Goldman, the jury also found Jimmie Atkins and Julio Almentero guilty of first-degree murder.
The three kidnapped 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef and 15-year-old Collin Romero back in December 2018. Police say one of the boys tried to buy a gun off Goldman, to possibly get revenge on Atkins, who was one of Goldman’s friends.
The prosecution highlighted call logs and video footage as evidence during the trial. Footage from Snapchat taken on Goldman Jr.’s phone shows the men driving across Albuquerque and torturing the teens in their car. The defense tried to claim it was actually a street initiation ritual and claimed that other people actually killed the boys. They also cast doubt on the reliability of cell phone data. The boys’ bodies were found buried on the West Mesa near Rio Rancho two weeks after they went missing.
As the three men were escorted out of the courtroom today, supporters shouted words of encouragement. “Pick your head up, we don’t put our head down pick your head up,” says a supporter.
All three men were convicted of two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, along with armed robbery. Goldman was nineteen at the time of the murders. Witnesses told police he was “a sociopath who preyed on kids.” Each of the three faces double life sentences plus twenty years. Their sentencing dates haven’t been set yet.