Trial to start for Rio Rancho officer’s alleged killer

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Court proceedings are set to begin this week in the trial of a man charged with shooting and killing a Rio Rancho police officer last year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that attorneys will begin jury selection in a Los Lunas courtroom Tuesday.

The trial of 29-year-old Andrew Romero was moved from Sandoval County to 40 miles south in Valencia County because of extensive media coverage of the case.

Police say Romero fatally shot Officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner during a routine traffic stop in May 2015.

Romero is facing first-degree murder and other charges.

Tabitha Littles, who was driving the vehicle carrying Romero, pleaded guilty last month to harboring a felon and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Four other charges were dropped in exchange for testimony against Romero.

Andrew Romero is accused of gunning down a Rio Rancho officer at a traffic stop — to avoid going back to jail.

Andrew Romero faces a lot of time behind bars. On Memorial Day 2015, Investigators said Romero and his then-girlfriend Tabitha Littles were looking for robbery targets. That fateful day, Rio Rancho Police Officer Gregg Benner pulled the two over.

This routine traffic stop ended with Benner fatally shot. As the trial begins this week, Romero faces a slew of charges including first-degree murder and armed robbery.

But a judge has ruled any confessions Romero made to police during the initial interrogation cannot be used against him because Romero has said he did not want to talk.

Littles who was driving the vehicle had murder charges against her dropped as part of a plea deal if she testifies against Romero. But the judge said if Littles doesn’t testify truthfully – the deal won’t stand.

Romero has a lengthy criminal history including manslaughter and a string of armed robberies.

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