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Ridgecrest man gets 65 years to life for 2017 slaying

By Jason Kotowski,

2023-03-14

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Ridgecrest man on Tuesday was sentenced to 65 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a neighbor as he chased his wife with a gun.

Jose Romero, 67, was found guilty in January of charges including first-degree murder and attempted murder.

His public defenders, T. Alan Rogers and Jennifer Melgar, said Romero’s care is unusual in that he has no prior criminal record. He’s never even had a speeding ticket, they said.

“Evidence was provided to the jury that he endured 18 years of domestic violence abuse that led him to eventually snap,” the attorneys said in an email. “Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate against gender, and we hope this case gives victims of domestic violence the strength to speak up.”

Prosecutor Hunter Starr said Romero testified he was abused, but the jury’s verdict indicates they believed he was the abuser, not the other way around.

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On Aug. 20, 2017, Romero tried to shoot his wife with a handgun following an argument but couldn’t get the gun to work, according to reports. He beat her with the gun then retrieved an AK-47 rifle and chased her and her 11-year-old grandson to the home of Elsa Elizabeth Rodas, 63.

Rodas answered the door and told Romero his wife wasn’t there, according to reports. He shot Rodas once, killing her, and his wife ran to the home of another neighbor on South Garth Street where she called 911.

Romero returned home and place the rifle just inside a door and opened the sliding glass door to the porch, documents said. When deputies and Ridgecrest police arrived, he approached and told them to shoot him before turning to head back to the door. A deputy tackled him and he was taken into custody.

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