Judge sentences Edward Romero to life plus 4.5 years in murder, dismemberment case

DENVER - The man convicted of shooting, killing and dismembering a 16-year-old girl was sentenced to life in prison plus 4.5 years on Tuesday.

"Never in my life did I know sick people like you roamed the streets," the victim's mother, Vanessa Martinez, told Edward Romero in court.

Romero attempted to skip the hearing.

"His presence appears to be mandatory," the judge said after defense attorneys waived Romero's presence. Prosecutors objected. The judge researched the issue then said, "Mr Romero needs to be with us."

After Romero arrived, Martinez' family spoke out.

Alicia's grandmother asked the judge if he could make Romero look at her, "I would like him to look at me so I can ask him why? Is that possible?"

Judge Robbins said he could force Romero into court, but couldn't force him to look at her.

The judge sentenced to Romero to life in prison without parole, plus three for tampering with evidence and another 18 months for a misdemeanor charge.

Romero refused to speak at Tuesday's hearing and his attorneys said they will appeal Romero's conviction.

Alicia Martinez had accompanied a friend to a party at Romero’s house on Oct. 22, 2010.

Romero's ex-girlfriend, Francesca Pagliasotti, testified that she later she saw Martinez' "body with a gunshot wound to the head" lying on a sofa in the garage.

She told the jury she begged Romero to turn himself in but he refused. Pagliasotti said she then saw Romero dismember the teenager's body. Pagliasotti was sentenced to 10 years for being an accessory to murder and abuse of a corpse.

During the trial, the prosecution quoted doctors who determined that Romero may have been suffering from bipolar disorder at times, but he was not psychotic or insane.

A defense attorney said every doctor Romero had seen noted the same symptoms, but came up with different diagnoses. The defense said Romero suffers memory loss and blackouts, hears voices and suffers from both insomnia and panic attacks.

The doctor who finally figured it out, the attorney said, was one who specialized in dissociative disorders. The defense said Romero doesn't have multiple personalities, but instead has one conscious mind that is broken.

Vanessa Martinez said she believed all along that Romero was faking his mental illness.

“I’m relieved," Martinez said after the verdict in February. “I’m happy my daughter got her justice.”

Family members said what they'll remember most about Alicia was  “Her smile, her laugh. She loved kids.”

In court Tuesday, one of Alicia's relatives said, "It's time to put a close to this circle of evil."

"We'll go back to our own world of love, " said Antoinette Paniagua.