General Crime

Ryan Dietz sentenced 25 years to life for the first-degree murder of Jack Romero, of Santa Rosa

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A Santa Rosa man was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison this morning for what a Sonoma County prosecutor called a cold and calculated murder motivated by jealousy. Ryan Dietz, 31, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the first-degree murder of 33-year-old Jack Romero, of Santa Rosa, and 25 years to life for intentional discharge of a firearm. He shot Romero, who was having an affair with his girlfriend and the mother of his three children, almost a dozen times in an alley near Third Street AleWorks in downtown Santa Rosa.

Police responded to the scene a few minutes after midnight on June 29, 2011, but Dietz had fled the scene. Romero had been inside the pub with Dietz’s girlfriend, Garicka Laverne Rush, 33, who was sentenced in July to probation for being an accessory to the murder by disposing of the unused bullets in the gun Dietz used. Dietz wiped tears from his eyes during today’s hearing in Sonoma County Superior Court as a series of photos of Romero and his family was shown on a screen. Members of Dietz’s family did not speak during the sentencing and declined to comment afterward. In written statements, Romero’s children, Gabriel, 14, and Angelina, 16, told Judge Dana Simonds how the loss of their father affected their lives.

Gabriel said his father was a role model and his best friend, and that he feels anger and hate at “the coward who would murder someone and not look back.” Angelina said she still suffers from severe anxiety and depression. In a statement to the court, Romero’s wife, Lynette Romero, whose leukemia is in remission, called Dietz “a heartless killer.” She said her husband had a big heart and took care of their children during her chemotherapy. Some members of the Romero family told Dietz their Christian faith allowed them to forgive him, and they urged Dietz to seek forgiveness from God.

“This is a huge mess. My family doesn’t win, your family doesn’t win, everybody is lost,” Romero’s brother Casey said. Deputy District Attorney Jane Murray told Judge Simonds that Dietz shot Romero in the back and ran away as he lay dying. She said Dietz has never shown remorse or admitted responsibility. Dietz did not speak during his sentencing, but his attorney Joe Bisbiglia told Romero’s family that he and his client were moved by the family’s love for Romero and their compassion for Dietz. Bisbiglia said Dietz’s family is religious and that Dietz is “a man of God.” Simonds said the murder “was a tragedy all the way around.

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