He was a two-bit robber with an upcoming parole and an intimidating gaze. A criminal among criminals, but not a monster.
Like other inmates, he looked down on sex offenders - especially those who victimized children. He liked to brag about the day he attacked a
prisoner who wasn't willing to "accept his place" at the bottom of the criminal hierarchy known as "the sinner's ladder."
Family members on the outside kept his "book," or prison bankroll, loaded. Inmates with cash can buy better clothing, better shoes, novels and
even televisions for their cells.
Rudy Michael Romero used to have all those things.
And he had something even more important: In a dangerous world where status often dictates safety, Romero was safe.
"I may have been a piece of sh-- outside these walls, but in here people knew who I was," Romero told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I was somebody in
here. People revered me."
But that was before a Salt Lake City Police detective came with a warrant for his blood.
"That," says Romero, pausing to stare down at his prison-issued slippers, "was before I was the Parkway Rapist."
"I don't have nothing": It was one year ago this month that Romero lost his status, his future and his family.
His DNA - taken from a database of samples from more than 20,000 prisoners - was matched with evidence collected in the early 1990s, when a serial
rapist stalked women along the Jordan River Parkway in Salt Lake City.
Thirteen victims have been identified by police. Most were in their teens. The youngest was 9.
The statute of limitations for prosecution had long since passed, but the state had a trump card: Romero, who recently had been paroled after
serving 10 years of a five-to-life sentence for armed robbery, was back in prison after being caught smoking marijuana - a parole violation.
Upon reviewing the DNA evidence, the state Board of Pardons and Parole voted to rescind Romero's previously scheduled July release in favor of 25
more years in prison.
Some civil-rights advocates have criticized the board's decision, which was based on charges never proved in court. But no attorney has come
forward to take Romero's case.
"I've written attorneys, dozens and dozens of attorneys," Romero says. "One says my matter is a criminal case and another says it's a civil
case. And no one wants to help me."
His voice cracks. His dark eyes water over. A tear draws a line from the corner of his eye to the corner of his thin black moustache. "I don't
have nothing," he says softly. "I don't have nothing."
This animal is finally getting justice for the rape of a 9 year old child. But I am such some "scum" like the ACLU will soon take up his case.
Perhaps with his new "status" the inmates will provide the justice that the state no longer can.
[edit on 9-3-2005 by DrHoracid]