WOODSTOCK – Video of a calm and matter-of-fact Michael W. Romano talking to investigators hours after he found his parents shot to death in 2006 capped the third day of testimony in his murder trial.
The video, which jurors will continue to watch Friday, ended a day filled with witnesses who prosecutors hope will convince jurors that Romano, 56, killed father Nick Sr. and stepmother Gloria Romano because he needed an inheritance to dig himself out of a $135,000 debt.
Michael Romano, formerly of Algonquin, was arrested last year in Las Vegas and was indicted on four counts of first-degree murder. His attorneys argue no forensic evidence links him to the crime, and the house was filled with money and valuables that were left alone.
Nick Sr., 71, and Gloria Romano, 65, were found dead in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2006, in their home between Crystal Lake and Cary. Both had been shot in the back of the head – Gloria once and Nick Sr. twice.
Besides his calm demeanor, Michael Romano during the first hour called Nick Sr. “coldhearted” and a man who talks down to people and “makes you feel rotten.”
What’s more, he told investigators of three unusual alleged incidents – from shooting at a raccoon with his dad to being robbed at gunpoint by a female hitchhiker he picked up heading home from Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin – that could explain if he or his car tested positive for gunshot residue.
Michael Romano was no stranger to the Elgin casino, prosecutors argued Thursday to advance the alleged motive.
In 2006, Michael Romano “coined in” $206,502, according to player tracking records, for a net loss of $22,222, retired Illinois Gaming Board special agent supervisor Tim Rueckert testified.
Michael Romano allegedly lost $18,112 in 2004 and $45,415 in 2005.
Michael Romano averaged a trip to the casino every two weeks in 2006, until he abruptly stopped going Oct. 8, a month before the shootings, Rueckert said. The gambling trips resumed the following February.
Jurors in the morning heard from Shaku Teas, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies. She confirmed neither Nick Sr. nor Gloria had any defensive wounds or showed any evidence of a struggle.
The state argues Michael Romano borrowed .22-caliber ammunition from a neighbor that matched the bullets found in his parents’ bodies.
More than $100,000 in cash and checks were recovered from the home in 2006 as part of the investigation.
About a year later, workers repairing damage from a water leak uncovered a floor safe with another $100,000 inside. Nick Sr. and Gloria Romano’s son, Nick Romano Jr., put that money toward the reward to find the killer.
Multiple firearms were found throughout the house as well, according to investigators.
Michael Romano told investigators he went to the house to check up on his father and stepmother because they didn’t answer the phone, and because they always picked up for him.
But prosecutors on Thursday presented a cousin who testified she saw Nick Sr. on one occasion intentionally let a call from Michael Romano go to voice mail because “… the only time he calls is when Michael wants money.”
Prosecutors have said Michael Romano made comments about inheriting his parents’ multimillion-dollar estate in the months leading up to the deaths, but unbeknownst to him, Nick Sr. had removed him from his will and trust five years earlier.