NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A medical expert was questioned about evidence and a video was presented in court showing an interview of Leland Hust who is accused of raping and killing six-year-old Ariana Jade Romeo at a Rio Rancho house in 2018. This comes as the trial of Hust entered day four on Tuesday.
Tuesday in court, a forensic analyst testified on evidence like a shirt belonging to Hust as well as Romeo’s body bag. The state says Hust’s DNA was found on the items linking him to the scene. During the defense’s questioning, the analyst revealed that DNA from two different males was also found at the scene.
“If there was direct contact, skin-to-skin contact, it would be likely to see at least a mixture on her person,” said Eve Tokumaru. “Being that there was a male portion to this mixture, I can infer that the saliva could have come from the male individual. Now, I cannot prove that, and it’s not definitive, but that is the inference.”
Video was also presented in court Tuesday that shows an interview with Hust the day the girl’s body was found on November 11, 2018. The video shows Hust crying to the point where you can’t understand what he is saying at times. In that video, he insists Romeo was perfectly fine the last time he saw her and questioned how anyone could harm her.
Interviewer: “Do you know if she got up at all?”
Hust: “I don’t know… I went to my room, and I was exhausted.”
Hust gets emotional several times during the Safehouse interview. He is accused of raping and murdering the child at a Rio Rancho home that he shared with Romeo, her mother, and at least six others. Hust is expected to take the stand before the conclusion of the trial which is expected to last seven to ten days.
If convicted, Hust could face life in prison.