Jones sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 shooting death of S.F. homeowner

·2 min read

May 1—State District Judge T. Glenn Ellington sentenced Joseph Jones of Santa Fe to life in prison Monday in connection with the 2018 shooting death of 52-year-old Robert Romero during what prosecutors described as a home burglary gone wrong.

A Santa Fe jury convicted Jones, 29, of felony murder and aggravated burglary in February after deliberating for less than two hours following four days of testimony.

Romero had been dozing on the couch of his home in the Las Casitas neighborhood in the wee hours of July 30, 2018, while his family slept upstairs. During the trial, prosecutors said Romero was awakened by Jones — a serial burglar who also lived in the area — as he attempted to break into the home.

After a struggle in Romero's backyard, Jones shot the homeowner, according to evidence presented during the trial, and fled before police arrived.

Santa Fe police investigators initially had no suspect, motive or leads, and the case went unsolved for nearly two years before Jones' arrest.

Police tested DNA on a pair of glasses and a small flashlight found at the scene, but the DNA profile did not match any in a national database maintained by the FBI.

Detectives then sought the help of a company that used technology developed by the medical industry to create a genetic profile from the DNA left at the scene. The company compared the profile with those on a public database, searching for individuals who might share similar genetics — the way someone might search for a long-lost relative, according to a statement released by the Santa Fe Police Department at the time.

The DNA helped police narrow potential suspects to three individuals, prosecutors said during the trial: Jones, his brother and a cousin.

Jones said nothing during his sentencing hearing Monday.

Romero's family also chose not to make a statement.

"They're not going to waste another breath on Mr. Jones," Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Padgett Macias told the court Monday. "Mr. Jones needs to know that their silence is strength, their silence is resilience and their silence speaks volumes as to the man Mr. Romero was. ... Mr. Romero's community will not give any more time, energy or attention to the man who already stole so much from them."

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.