Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari woman sentenced to 19 years for possession

 

January 6, 2015

Donna Romero makes a statement in Tenth District Court on Dec. 24 before receiving a 19- year prison sentence for methamphetamine possession.

link Donna Romero makes a

statement in Tenth

District Court on Dec. 24

before receiving a 19-

year prison sentence for

methamphetamine possession.

By Steve Hansen

QCS Managing Editor

A major contributor to the Tucumcari area’s drug problems has received a 19-year prison sentence in Tenth District Court, according to Tim Rose, 10th District attorney.

Donna Romero, who was convicted by a jury in October for the third time in 10 years, received an 18-year sentence on Dec. 24 for possession of methamphetamine, and another year in prison was tacked on under the state’s habitual offender statute, Judge Albert Mitchell ruled after a hearing on Tuesday.

On less serious charges, the sentences will be served concurrently the 19-year prison sentence, followed by parole and probation, Mitchell said.

After the sentencing, Rose said he was satisfied with the penalty.

“This was her fourth conviction,” he said, “and she’ll spend almost two decades in prison.”

Romero’s first conviction was in 1998, court records show, but sentences within the past 10 years were used in determining the sentence, one of which was thrown out due to doubts about Romero’s defense.

Romero was a major contributor to the Tucumcari area’s methamphetamine problem, Rose said.

Romero’s defense attorney, Tomas Benevidez of Las Vegas, said he thinks the sentences for possession without intent to sell are too harsh.

“The system should distinguish between users and dealers,” he said, and Romero, he said, was a user, not a major dealer.

Romero said he would make a decision on appealing the case after more discussions with Romero.

The verdict against Romero came on Oct. 1 after two full days of testimony in the case before Mitchell.

Romero had been jailed in connection with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in February. In a jail “shakedown” on Feb. 17, Romero was found to be carrying more than two grams of methamphetamine when jail officers conducted a cavity search, according to corrections officers’ testimony.

Quay County Sheriff’s deputy Frankie Gutierrez testified that amount of meth could sell for $200 on the street. A tenth of a gram sells for about $10 on the street, he said, and is the usual amount that users will ingest in a single smoking session.

The jury also convicted Romero on felony charges of tampering with evidence in attempting to hide the methamphetamine she was carrying, based on the jail shakedown search. The jury also returned a guilty verdict on a misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia charge based on the pipe police confiscated in the traffic stop, Rose said.

Since Romero is a repeat offender with convictions in 1998 and 2006 for trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine and for forgery.

“We were partially successful,” he said, in getting the possession with intent to distribute charge dismissed. He said the the sentence on that charge could have been as long as nine years in prison.

 

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