Defense questions witnesses in Andrew Romero trial

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LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – It only took a day for the defense to get through all five of its witnesses in the trial of accused cop killed Andrew Romero, charged with 2015 murder of Rio Rancho Officer Gregg Benner.

The state already said that Andrew Romero’s DNA was found on the gun used to kill Officer Benner, but an expert for the defense told jurors that doesn’t prove he shot it.

“We only know that at some point he came into contact with that firearm,” said Dr. Michael Spence, Forensic Scientist. “We don’t know when or how, we just know that he came into contact with it.”

The defense used Dr. Spence to challenge the methods used by the state crime lab when comparing DNA.

Dr. Spence told jurors that even though DNA samples are separated and sealed on the “plate” — contamination is possible. Especially when those known samples are on the same plate as samples taken from evidence at the scene.

There are “four reference samples” in the case including DNA samples from Andrew Romero, his ex-girlfriend Tabitha Littles and Ofc. Benner. The fourth sample is from James Stalter. He testified earlier in the case for the state. He was one of the witnesses who tried to help off-duty paramedics at the scene where Ofc. Benner was shot.

The state fired back, asking Dr. Spence if he was trying to dispute a method that’s used at other labs around the U.S. The state also tried to discredit Dr. Spence by saying he hasn’t done any case work since 2007 and that he only testifies for defense lawyers.

The defense did rest it’s case Thursday and the jury was sent home.

Closing arguments are set first thing Friday morning.

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