Opening statements heard in double murder trial

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Three men charged with the brutal killing of two Albuquerque teens are now on trial. 

Stephen Goldman Jr. Jimmie Atkins, and Julio Almentero are charged with the deaths of Ahmed Lateef and Collin Romero. 

Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office found the bodies of Lateef and Romero on a Mesa west of Rio Rancho, four years ago.

On Wednesday, both sides delivered opening statements and the jury heard from the first witness in the case. 

“This case is about a close group of friends, almost like family,” said the prosecutor. 

Those friends, prosecutors say, are Goldman Jr, Atkins, and Almentero. Almentero was only 15 at the time. 

Prosecutors say the three friends were so tight they were willing to kidnap, torture, and kill Lateef and Romero over a perceived threat. 

Prosecutors say Lateef was making arrangements to buy a gun from Goldman Jr. 

“Ahmed told Goldman ‘I’m going to set up the fool who robbed me,’ as the reason why he wanted to buy the gun. Goldman responds and asks ‘who robbed you?’ Ahmed replied, ‘that white boy Flex,’” said the prosecutor.   

Law enforcement say the accused men arranged a meeting, and then ultimately killed Lateef and Romero. But the defense claimed that evidence, is not so clear. 

“There will not be a single piece of evidence that shows Julio killed Collin Romero, and not a single piece of evidence that shows Julio killed Ahmed Lateef,” said the defense.  

They asked the jury to question the evidence, and the reliability of the witnesses, including Arron Aragon.

“They’re going to bring in a man named Anthony Aragon, who you’ll see has had several issues in his life,” the defense for Jimmie Atkins said. 

 And Stephen Goldman Sr. the two men who took plea deals in the case. 

“I want to you to ask questions about this adult, this older man, who was hanging out with kids,” said the defense. 

But the first witness to take the stand was Jonathan Gonzales who was friends with Lafeef and Romero. He testified about Snapchat exchanges between Lateef and Goldman. 

“They were talking about buying a gun and purchasing some marijuana.”

The defense was quick to try and cast doubts on his testimony. 

If convicted, Goldman Jr., Atkins, and Almentero could face up to life in prison.