ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Federal prosecutors are asking that a suspected killer be sentenced to 20 years in prison for entering the country illegally. That killing was of Jacqueline Vigil, the mother of two New Mexico State Police officers during a robbery in her driveway.
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While he hasn’t been convicted of the murder, prosecutors argue it’s the best way to protect the community. After months when it seemed the case was starting to turn cold, authorities announced the arrest of Luis Talamantes-Romero in Texas, a Mexican national living illegally in the United States.
Talamantes-Romero has since pleaded guilty to entering the country illegally. He still awaits trial for Vigil’s murder. Federal prosecutors still argue the murder is relevant to his sentence for being here illegally and is asking the judge to sentence him to 20 years, which is allowed when an offender has been shown to have a violent history and is a threat to community safety.
The defense argues that would be inappropriate and is fighting for a lighter sentence. They also argue that Talamantes-Romero has unjustly become the poster child for Operation Legend in Albuquerque, a program designed to stop violent crime with federal and local authorities working together.
“More than anything, I hope to see reduction in violent crime and people feeling safer living and working in the city,” said John Anderson, U.S. Attorney for New Mexico.
Defense attorneys say any mention of Vigil’s murder in his sentence violates Talamantes-Romero’s rights. Prosecutors argue Congress gave judges discretion in these types of sentences for this reason and Talamantes-Romero has proven himself unfeeling, cruel, and ruthless and the court has the power to protect the public.
Sentencing has been set for May 26. Talamantes-Romero’s attorney says if the judge allows Vigil’s murder to be taken into account, he will withdraw his guilty plea.