ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A drawn-out case came to a close Friday as a twice-convicted killer received a 17-year prison sentence for the 2008 murder of Anthony Salazar, Jr.
Salazar's body was found on the West Mesa in September 2008 in the trunk of a burned-out car. Prosecutors said Leonard Romero shot and killed Salazar and then set the fire.
At one point, a judge dismissed the charges because the case was taking too long to come to trial. The state Supreme Court ordered a new trial.
In September Romero pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.
Romero's record now includes two murder convictions; he previously served time for murder in the 1990s. District Court Judge Charles W. Brown took that history into account as he imposed the maximum sentence.
"In light of all of the facts and circumstances of this case and the defendant's history, I cannot suspend any part of this," Brown said during the sentencing hearing.
As Romero was led from the court, he blew a kiss and waved to the camera.
Several members of Salazar's family were in the courtroom. His father said he hopes the sentencing gives some closure.
"We are pleased with it because a couple years back we had nothing where it was dismissed, but it's been brought back up," Anthony Salazar Sr. said. "With the plea today we are pleased.
"We can move forward with our life, and Christmas will be a little brighter this year."
Romero will serve 15 years for the murder charge plus a year for being a habitual offender and a year for using a firearm in the crime.
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