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10 Colorado slaying suspects on probation when arrested

4:53 AM, Mar 28, 2011   |    comments
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"It's pretty hard," he said as he wiped away tears. "Just the fact that we have to go to the cemetery to see her."

Martinez, 25, said the manner in which his sister died makes his grief more unbearable.

"I wish that she was still here," he said.

Alicia Martinez, 16, went missing on October 22, 2010. A friend took her to a party at Edward Timothy Romero's house at 4148 Decatur Street. Denver police later found Martinez' mutilated body at the home.

Prosecutors charged Romero with killing Martinez. They also charged several others in the case.

A Denver Post investigation found Romero was on probation for felony menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender when the murder took place. The Post learned Romero had an argument with his girlfriend and fired a handgun in the air in October 2007.

"I believe that they just gave him way too many chances," Martinez said. "I feel like the system that we have has failed."

9NEWS Legal Analyst Scott Robinson said the benefits of probation outweigh the risks.

"We have to have a probation system," Robinson said. "Most people who are put on probation successfully complete it and don't commit additional crimes."

The Post found placing a felon on probation costs taxpayers $9,000 per year. Putting a felon in state prison costs $35,000 per year.

Robinson said while judges attempt to gauge the character of each offender before granting probation, Romero's case proved a criminal's behavior can be unpredictable.

"You simply cannot anticipate future conduct that well," Robinson said.

Ten people with felony histories, including Romero, were on probation at the time they were arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder during the last nine months in Colorado. The Denver Post reported that court files for each of the 10 suspects show they were repeatedly given the chance to continue probation rather than going to prison after instances in which their probation could have been revoked. In addition to Martinez' murder, other crimes the 10 suspects are accused of include the fatal shooting of a college football player and the slaying of a Weld County Sherriff's deputy.

In June 2010, Colorado had 3,448 people on intensive supervision probation, the most restrictive type. Six of the 10 suspects in the homicide cases were under that type of probation.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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