A Georgetown 18-year-old charged with murder in a domestic violence-related shooting told police he targeted the father of his ex-girlfriend in response to threats against his life.
Edgar N. Vieyra confessed to shooting Librado Romero, but said this was after Romero had threatened him and sent men to Georgetown to confront him, Lexington police Det. Steve McCown said at a preliminary hearing Monday. Romero was shot last week at his home on Wayland Drive in Lexington.
"His statement to us was he was afraid for his life from ... Librado, so he felt as if he had to kill him," McCown said.
However, the detective said police had not found evidence that Vieyra's statements about Librado Romero's threats were credible. Police were still investigating.
Vieyra has pleaded not guilty to murder, burglary, violating a domestic violence order and three counts of assault.
His attorney, Public Defender Tom Griffiths, said after the hearing the shooting was in response to the threats. Griffiths said Vieyra's age and inexperience also played a role.
"Everybody has to remember that even though he's charged as an adult, he's really just a teen-age kid. He's barely an adult under the law," Griffiths said. "This is an 18-year-old kid who was getting death threats from an adult."
Vieyra is the ex-boyfriend of Romero's daughter, Nallely. She had taken out a domestic violence order against Vieyra the week before the shooting, according to court documents.
The domestic violence order followed an incident in April in which Vieyra allegedly assaulted Nallely Romero, McCown testified. The detective said Vieyra did not say whether the threats from Librado Romero stemmed from the domestic violence case between Vieyra and Romero's daughter.
Vieyra "felt that his life was in danger ... but he never mentioned to us about the EPO or anything like that," McCown said.
Other new details about the case were revealed during Monday's preliminary hearing, including clarifications on when and how events unfolded. Librado Romero's son and son-in-law spoke with the Herald-Leader last week about the incident, but neither was present when the altercation began.
According to court testimony, Nallely was warming up bottles for her 7-month-old twins about 2:15 a.m. May 7 when she saw Vieyra in the yard through a window. The domestic violence order prohibited him from being within 500 yards of the Romeros' home, so Nallely ran down the hall to wake up her father, McCown said.
Librado Romero was walking to the kitchen with his daughter when shots were fired from outside. Librado was hit, collapsing in the hallway near Nallely's bedroom door, and Nallely ran back to her parent's bedroom, McCown said.
Vieyra then kicked in the back door and followed Nallely, the detective said. Vieyra was allegedly armed with a .22-caliber rifle and a pellet gun.
There was a scuffle in the parent's bedroom that resulted in Maria Romero, Librado's wife and Nallely's mother, being shot several times. Nallely was also shot in the arm.
The ruckus woke up Jenny Romero, Nallely's sister, and Jenny's husband, Stephen Bryant. They were asleep in a basement bedroom.
Jenny and Stephen ran upstairs and managed to wrestle Vieyra to the ground and hold him until police arrived, McCown said. Jenny got ahold of Vieyra's rifle at some point and took it into the basement, he said.
McCown said police found two rifles in the home that belonged to Librado Romero, but they were in a safe in the closet and apparently had not been drawn. No other contraband was found in the house.
Vieyra was taken to Saint Joseph Hospital and treated for a gash on his head, then taken to police headquarters.
"He agreed to speak with us," McCown said. "He said he drove to that location ... and his intentions when he went to that residence were to kill Mr. Romero."
During the interview, he repeatedly asked if Librado Romero had died, McCown said.
After hearing about 20 minutes of testimony, Fayette District Judge Joseph T. Bouvier waived the case to a grand jury. He refused to set a bond on the murder charge or reduce the bond on the other charges because Vieyra had violated conditions of the domestic violence order.
The judge said he couldn't expect Vieyra to comply with the his orders "given that the whole reason we're here is his alleged violation of another court order."