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Man sentenced to life in prison after conviction for strangling 2-year-old cousin to death

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Posted at 4:48 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 18:54:16-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – A man accused of strangling his 2-year-old cousin to death in September 2015, then hiding the boy’s body and staging evidence, was convicted of several charges Thursday, including murder, and immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A First Judicial District Court jury found Roman Paul Isaiah Morales, 22, guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree murder of a child under 12 but one in a position of trust and child abuse resulting in death charges.

The child, Donnie “Romelo” Romero had been reported missing, and when police were called to an apartment in the 2500 block of S. Sheridan, they eventually found the boy dead inside a storage bin with a ligature wrapped around his neck.

Morales choked the boy to death with a cord while three other people were in the apartment: The boy’s mother was in the shower; his disabled grandmother was in her bedroom, and Morales and the boy’s cousin was in the living room.

The boy died in the kitchen; although the cousin in the living room had heard choking sounds coming from the kitchen, Morales told his cousin the boy was “choking on a gummie” at the time.

But he killed the boy and put his body in the nearby storage bin, then told others in the house wondering where the boy was that he didn’t know.

Police said that Morales also staged evidence, including a gummie vitamin bottle and the boy’s drinking cup, at the scene to make it appear as though he wasn’t involved.

But authorities were able to piece together the backstory, and a jury saw enough evidence at trial to convict Morales of the three charges.

“It is unthinkable that Mr. Morales could brutally and brazenly choke the life out of this precious child,” said First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir.