WOODSTOCK – For the death of his parents, Michael W. Romano will never see life outside of prison's walls.
Romano, convicted last month in the double-murder of Nick Sr. and Gloria Romano was sentenced Thursday to life in prison, plus 50 years. He is 56.
"The defendant's actions in this case were disgusting," McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather said. "It was an execution of his parents prompted by greed. It is unforgivable."
Nick Sr., 71, and Gloria Romano, 65, were found dead in their Cary-area home in 2006. Michael Romano long had been considered a suspect, but it wasn't until eight years later when prosecutors charged Romano – then living in Las Vegas and working as a cab driver – with two counts of first-degree murder.
"Investigators put together a strong case, but we only get one shot at [trying] a murder suspect," Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally said outside the courtroom. "… We reviewed the case in 2013, and we thought we had enough evidence to go forward with it."
Although there was no murder weapon found and no confession, the circumstantial evidence against the former Algonquin man was enough to convince a jury of his guilt.
Testimony during the two-week trial revealed that Michael Romano knew details only the killer would know, such as the two gunshot wounds to the back of the head that killed Nick Romano Sr., although his injuries were not visible. Further, a neighbor had given Michael Romano .22 caliber bullets – the same caliber used in the Romanos' killings – three days before their murders.
Michael Romano had amassed $135,000 in gambling debts, and prosecutors said that he killed his parents for inheritance he believed he would receive upon their death. Little did he know that his father previously had cut his son out of the will.
Kenneally said Michael Romano had "the heart of a reptile and the conscience of a thief."
"May justice in the form of life-long incarceration be some small recompense to Nick Sr., Gloria and Nick Jr. for having had to suffer the misfortune and devastating consequences of having no choice but to be related to this liar, thief and murderer," Kenneally said.
Michael Romano's defense attorneys argued that there was not enough evidence to connect him to the murders. Further, Assistant Public Defenders Angelo Mourelatos and Rick Behof noted that money and valuables found in the Romanos home were left untouched.
Michael Romano maintains his innocence, and has begun the appeal process, Mourelatos said. Romano declined to make a statement in court.
After the guilty verdict last month, the Romanos' other son, Nick Romano Jr. released a statement, saying the day was "bittersweet."
"The conviction of my best friend and father, Nick, and my stepmother Gloria’s killer has been a long time coming," the statement reads. "For almost nine years we have been seeking the truth and looking for answers. On October 1st, 2015, we confirmed what we’ve known for years. We can now move forward and not have to look over our shoulder to see if he was coming to get us."