Mother of Leland Hust believes someone else killed Ariana Romeo
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The mother of Leland Hust believes someone else killed 6-year-old Ariana "Jade" Romeo.
Hust was found not guilty of murder Wednesday, but the jury deadlocked on the charges of criminal sexual penetration and child abuse resulting in death.
"I feel like it’s good, but I feel like they screwed up this investigation and the real guilty person is getting away this whole entire time," said Sarina Hazeltine, who is Hust’s mother.
Hazeltine said she’s heartbroken over the death of Ariana, but she insists her son isn’t responsible for her death.
"You know, we all love Jade, we all care about Jade," Hazeltine said. "We all love Leland. We all care about Leland. We know Leland is innocent. We know the fricken child molester in the house is the one who killed Jade."
Winston Scates Sr., the man who owns the Rio Rancho house where Romeo was killed, testified in the trial that he groped his granddaughter, and watched child porn.
He took a plea deal and was sentenced to probation. He was then granted immunity to testify against Hust.
"How could Leland, being as special as, hide every single piece of blood and all that other stuff," Hazeltine said.
Prosecutors say they are following the evidence, which they say showed Hust’s DNA on Ariana’s body.
"All the evidence we have points only to him," said deputy district attorney Jessica Martinez.
Following Wednesday’s verdict, Hust was taken back to jail. Prosecutors plan to try him on the charges the jury deadlocked on.
"If people have doubts about the competency that people will be held accountable for these horrifying crimes, will we get justice in this case – will someone be held accountable? We’re certainly going to try again," Martinez said.
The next trial is not expected to begin for at least six months.