Column • Román trial leaves deputy's dad wondering about justice denied.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Russell Greathouse writes with the voice of an anguished and angry man.
His daughter, Millard County Sheriff's Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, was shot to death during a traffic stop early on the morning of Jan. 5, 2010. Last month, the man charged with gunning her down was acquitted by a jury that agonized over its verdict.
The decision shredded the family's hearts, stunned the prosecutor and left many of us wondering what had gone wrong in what seemed like a clear case.
In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, Russell Greathouse, who lives in Lynndyl, unleashed his wrath, blaming the accused, the judge and the jury.
"All it would have taken was for one juror with a little courage to prevent this monumental injustice," he wrote. "The judge and jury killed Josie again with their decisions while outrageously believing a murdering, drug-dealing, illegal alien who condemned my son, Ryan, of her murder."
Roberto Miramontes Román had confessed to Fox's killing. But during the trial, he testified that her brother, Ryan Greathouse, who had been smoking methamphetamine with Román, had shot his own sister.
Ryan Greathouse, who died of an overdose a few months after the crime, had told police Román was solely responsible. But because Fox's brother could not be cross-examined, 4th District Judge Donald Eyre ruled that statement was inadmissible.
Jurors didn't know that until after the trial.
Acquittals in Utah are relatively rare, about 10 percent to 20 percent in all cases, said Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah turned defense attorney.
"I can't say if it's higher in murder cases," he said. But in those trials "jurors are a little more attuned and put more scrutiny on the evidence."
Still, he said, "in Utah, a law-and-order state, prosecutors enjoy high conviction rates."
That offers no comfort to Russell Greathouse and his family.
"Anyone that knew my Ryan knew what a kind-hearted, loving person he was," he wrote."Ryan did have a drug addiction, which he would admit to. He was never a liar, and he told the police everything that night and helped, however he could, to assist the investigation."
Russell Greathouse told me he had worked on his statement since the Aug. 17 acquittal. While we couldn't print it in its entirety, we've provided excerpts here and links to it on our website, sltrib.com.
"My family and I, most importantly Josie, did not receive the justice that she deserved. Ryan was accused of something he was not capable of, and simply did not do," he wrote. "The judge and jury made sure that justice would not be served. I hope they can sleep at night with their decisions. I know we can't."
All the parties in the courtroom did their job, but the jury is still out on whether it was justice.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at sltrib.com/pegmcentee, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.
An anguished father speaks ...
• "The story that this murderer came up with over the last 2½ years was utterly ridiculous. It was beyond ridiculous! It was among the most sinister lies ever told. Rob Román set a new standard for cruelty and depravity, which for some reason was good enough for this judge and jury."
• "From what I have heard and read this was a matter of two jurors seizing their moment and doing something big. These jurors were inspired by Hollywood, not the truth. They traded their oath and the instructions they were given for a chance to star in a courtroom drama. They thought they were Hollywood heroes, when in fact they were really cowards."
• "One of the things the defense brought up in court was how Ryan reacted emotionless to learning that his sister had been shot and killed. How would you react? Would your reaction be the same as the next person? Would you be in shock like Ryan obviously was, like the officers testified to in court? But why believe the officers when you could believe the murdering drug dealer and his lies."
Russell Greathouse, on the acquittal of Roberto Miramontes Román in the shooting death of Greathouse's daughter, Millard County Sheriff's Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox. To read the father's full statement, go to www.sltrib.com