After his conviction in the double-murder of his parents, Michael W. Romano was sentenced to life in prison, plus 50 years.
The 56-year-old ex-Algonquin man – who had been living and working in Las Vegas as a cab driver when prosecutors charged him – immediately began the appeals process in an attempt to overturn his conviction.
On Friday, Second District Illinois Appellate Court Judge Robert B. Spence upheld Romano’s conviction in the Circuit Court of McHenry County and crushed his attempt for an appeal, according to court records.
Romano was convicted in 2015 in the double-murder of Nick Sr. and Gloria Romano.
McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather characterized the murder as “an execution” fueled by “greed.”
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.
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.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who was an assistant state’s attorney at the time, said Michael Romano had “the heart of a reptile and the conscience of a thief.”
Michael Romano’s defense attorneys argued 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.
In his appeal, Romano argued the court made an error in admitting “hearsay evidence” to the trial, the prosecutors closing arguments contained an erroneous statement that was prejudicial and the court did not grant him a Krankel hearing to address what he characterized as “ineffective assistance of counsel,” according to a July 27 court filing.
In each case, the Illinois Appellate Court sided with the McHenry County ruling.