Utah trio accused of child sex abuse appear in court
Courts • Woman's defense likely to bring up mental competency.
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Prosecutors expect Amanda Nicole Romano's attorney will bring up mental competency as a defense in her child sex abuse case.

Carbon County Deputy Attorney Jeremiah Hume could not expand on what issues Romano may have, and nothing has been formally filed, but he anticipates the matter being raised as the case proceeds.

Romano and her husband Timothy Lee Romano, who are accused of sexually abusing at least six children in the past three years, made their first court appearances in 7th District Court on Monday. Each was assigned a public defender, as neither can afford to hire a private attorney.

The judge also scheduled their preliminary hearings for Dec. 21. Hume noted that most defendants end up waiving that hearing, at which the prosecution must show there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Amanda Romano, 26, is charged with five counts of object rape of a child, five counts of sodomy upon a child, four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child — all first-degree felonies — and class A misdemeanor child abuse. Timothy Romano, 25, is charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

The Romanos, as well as a friend of theirs, Tyler Barney, were arrested in early November after the Utah Division of Family and Child Services notified the police about the suspected abuse.

Barney, 25, of Helper, made his first court appearance on Wednesday and also is scheduled for a Dec. 21 preliminary hearing. He is charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child, second-degree felonies.

Meanwhile, La Verkin police were revisiting a 2008 child abuse case to which Amanda Romano pleaded guilty while she lived in the Washington County city. Police also were investigating whether she may have abused other children.

The Romanos have a 5-year-old daughter, who is in state custody.

mmcfall@sltrib.com