No parole for man who killed N.B. cop 25 years ago
DORCHESTER, N.B. - An American man who murdered a New Brunswick Highway Patrol officer 25 years ago was denied parole Thursday after the Parole Board of Canada concluded he still poses a risk to the public.
The Parole Board of Canada ruled that Anthony Romeo is not ready to integrate back into society.
"You have a limited criminal history, but ... you claimed the lives of two innocent people," said board member Jean Dube as he read the ruling.
Romeo, who is originally from New York City, admitted in a 1988 trial that he shot Const. Emmanuel (Manny) Aucoin on March 8, 1987, but argued he was not guilty by reason of insanity.
During his trial, a psychiatrist said Romeo thought he was being followed by a monster who brutally killed young men, and he thought the 31-year-old officer was that monster.
However, during Thursday's parole hearing at the medium-security Dorchester Penitentiary, Romeo said while he was having delusions at the time, he didn't think Aucoin was a monster. He said that was the term used by the psychiatrist.
Romeo was in Canada at the time trying to elude police from his home state where he was a suspect in the murder of another man.
"I was nervous, I was scared, I was on the run," Romeo told the parole hearing.
"He didn't deserve to die."
Aucoin was found dead in his police cruiser along a remote stretch of Highway 640, south of Fredericton. He had been shot twice in the head while writing Romeo a speeding ticket.
Aucoin was born in Prince Edward Island, but lived near Harvey, N.B. He was survived by a wife and two young children.
The trial heard that after the murder, Romeo threw his weapons, including an antique rifle and a crossbow, into the nearby woods. He then fled across the border to the United States.
His rented Porsche was found at the airport in Bangor, Maine, and Romeo was arrested by police at Logan Airport in Boston where he was attempting to board a flight to Florida.
He was returned to Canada and found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The verdict was upheld following an appeal and retrial.
Romeo, now 48 years old, did not apply for parole, but the hearing was automatic because 25 years had passed.
He told the hearing that the only reason he was attending the hearing was to apologize to the Aucoin family.
"I'm not begging to get out," he said. "I apologize for what I've done."
Following the hearing, the slain officer's daughter, Valerie Aucoin, said the apology is worthless.
During the hearing, she read a victim impact statement, saying "this murderer callously and maliciously killed my dad and also killed my childhood."
"Please don't allow him to walk our streets and our communities."
She was just seven years old at the time of the murder.
"He still makes my skin crawl," she said after the hearing.
Dan Patterson, a parole officer at the penitentiary, said while Romeo had taken various programs to deal with anger management, releasing him on parole "would be premature at this time."
Three days before Romeo shot Aucoin, he was supposed to provide hair and blood samples to police in New York because he was a suspect in a 1985 murder there, but instead, travelled to Canada.
He was later indicted in 1987 on the murder charge in the U.S. but only went back there in November 2005 after changes in the Canada-United States Extradition Treaty allowed for temporary extradition.
In February 2006, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was given a sentence to be served concurrently with the Canadian sentence.
Romeo appealed that ruling, saying that the 19-year delay deprived him of his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The appellate division of the Supreme Court of New York agreed and ordered that the judgment be reversed and the indictment dismissed.
The court of appeals of New York later agreed with the ruling of the appellate court.
The parole hearing was told that Romeo displayed aggressive behaviour during his initial years in prison, but has improved since being put on regular injections of medication to treat paranoid schizophrenia.
Romeo will have another automatic review for full parole in two years, but could apply sooner for day parole.
If Romeo is ever released, there is a standing deportation order that would see him returned to the U.S., where he would not be under any legal restrictions.