Prosecution wraps up in trial of accused Rio Rancho cop killer

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LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The state continued to present its case in the murder trial of Andrew Romero, the man accused of killing Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg Benner.

Wednesday, prosecutors focused on the murder weapon. They tried to link the gun they say Romero ditched to the bullet casings found at the scene where Ofc. Benner was murdered during the traffic stop.

The state didn’t waste any time Wednesday morning calling an expert in firearm identification to the stand. The expert told jurors he completed multiple test rounds with the same gun and came to one conclusion.

“Those four cartridge cases were identified as being fired by this 9 millimeter pistol,” Forensic Scientist Steve Guerra said.

Guerra works for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. He said there’s a unique characteristic on the Beretta, “a dent or defect” on the firing pin in the gun that leaves behind a distinct impression on the cartridges every time the gun is fired.

The state has already placed Romero’s DNA on the gun and on the steering wheel of the SUV Officer Benner pulled over that night.

Romero’s attorneys argued that just because Romero’s DNA was on the gun doesn’t mean he shot anyone with it.

Prosecutors also made it clear in court Wednesday that Officer Benner was shot three times; but they had an expert testify that it was one shot in particular that killed him.

“It went through the chest, the left lung, the heart and through the diaphragm and through the liver,” Forensic Pathologist Dr. Lori Proe said.

Proe described to jurors the shot that entered Benner’s upper-left shoulder. He was also struck in the upper-right area of the back and in the lower-right leg.

University of New Mexico Hospital physician, Dr. Drew Harrell, testified that he was part of the trauma team who worked on Benner after he was shot. He told jurors he believed the officer “sustained unsurvivable injuries.”

The state wrapped up its case with its last witness Wednesday evening. The defense will present its side first thing Thursday.

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