ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico have charged a Mexican national with the 2019 slaying of the mother of two state police officers in a case that drew national attention and spotlighted Albuquerque’s struggle with crime.
District Attorney Raul Torrez announced the charges against Luis Talamantes-Romero during a news conference Thursday. Talamantes-Romero is in federal custody in Texas awaiting sentencing for illegal re-entry into the U.S. In the New Mexico case, he is facing charges of aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and other crimes.
Jacqueline Vigil, 55, was shot dead last year in her driveway as she prepared to leave for the gym. The case had gone unsolved for months, drawing the attention of President Donald Trump as he pushed his tough-on-crime agenda. Vigil’s family had traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with the president.
“This is the first step toward justice,” Torrez said in a statement. “Our goal is to secure a conviction for Luis Talamantes and get justice for Jackie Vigil and her family. (Talamantes) needs to be held accountable by this community for taking the life of an extraordinary woman.”
Torrez said Isaac Ramirez-Soto, 21, who was in the car with Talamantes-Romero when Vigil was shot, agreed to testify against Talamentes-Romero as a condition of his plea agreement with the state on charges unrelated to the murder.
According to an arrest warrant, Ramirez-Soto told special agents with the District Attorney’s Office that he and Talamantes-Romero were driving around Albuquerque on the night of Nov. 19, breaking into cars.
Before dawn, they spotted a woman — later identified as Vigil — getting into her car. Ramirez-Soto told special agents that Talamantes-Romero blocked the driveway so the woman couldn’t leave and then walked up to her window. About 40 seconds later, he heard the victim’s car horn go off and almost instantly heard a single gunshot.
Ramirez-Soto told agents Talamantes-Romero had fired the gun into the driver’s area of the car right next to the driver’s door. They then drove away.
According to the complaint, Talamantes-Romero’s sister and a friend drove him to stay with family in San Antonio, Texas, where he was arrested on immigration charges in January.
Talamantes-Romero’s sister and seven others have also been charged with various crimes.