Trinidad police are looking for 31-year old Trinity Jay Romero in the stabbing death of Kyle Phillips Sunday night.
Phillips, 24, died in a Trinidad hospital.
The two men were both at the Empty Pocket Saloon Sunday night. Phillips was shooting pool with some friends, when Romero showed up with his brother and some friends of his own. According to witnesses Romero was giving Phillips a hard time. They say Phillips ignored Romero and eventually left the bar to smoke a cigarette.
Court documents say, Romero followed Phillips outside and continued to challenge him to a fight. A witness says Phillips became annoyed with the constant taunting and punched Romero in the face. The witness says, that's when Romero pulled out a knife and attacked Phillips.
A few minutes after Phillips and Romero went outside, a witness told investigators, someone came rushing in and told Romero's brother, "they had to get out of there."
That's when other bar patrons found Phillips on the ground bleeding from his chest. When emergency personnel arrived, Phillips had stopped breathing but they had been able to resuscitate him long enough to get him to the hospital. The victim's family says they were told, the weather was too poor for the helicopter in Pueblo to fly down to Trinidad. Phillips died a few hours later.
While Phillips was in the hospital, one of Romero's friends who was with him at the bar was pulled over by the Colorado State Patrol. According to the CSP there were several males in the car at the time, and the driver Marlon Mascarenas, was arrested for DUI just before midnight. CSP also says the car was supposed to remain at the scene.
However, investigators remember seeing that same car at a gas station about an hour later. A review of the gas station shows Trinity Romero in that vehicle at the gas station. Where the car went after that, investigators do not know.
As of Monday evening, the authorities are still searching for Trinity Romero. He allegedly called the Las Animas County dispatch center and agreed to turn himself in at noon on Monday, but he never arrived at the police station.
KKTV talked to Phillips family about what happened.
The victim's father, William Phillips was in shock. "I just can't believe someone would take a life over something so [petty] as a pool game," says Phillips. William was called to the hospital after the stabbing. He says the ride there was gut-wrenching. "That's all I could think of, was that I was going to watch my son die. And that's exactly what happened, I had to go watch my son die," says Phillips.
While he was at the hospital, Phillips had the chance to talk to one of the witnesses who helped his son, "I asked him if he knew who did it, and he said, 'yes I do.' And he said, 'but I'm not telling anybody.' He said, 'the people that did it will come after me.'"
Investigators also talked to this witness and were able to convince him to share what he saw. His testimony and that of the other witnesses at the bar were enough to secure an arrest warrant for Romero. For now he is wanted on a charge of second degree murder, however official charges will be filed by the District Attorney's office at a later date.
A charge of second degree murder is not likely to sit well with Phillips family. "He premeditated, and walked out, and killed my son. I don't think he should ever see the light of day. I don't believe in killing people, but I believe in keeping them [in prison] until they die," says William Phillips.
This is not the first time the Phillips family has seen tragedy like this. Three years ago, Kyle Phillips’ cousin, Jason was stabbed to death in Trinidad. His killers faced more than 20 charges including one for 1st degree murder. All of them were dropped as part of a plea agreement where they pleaded guilty to second degree murder. His killers had long criminal histories, similar to Kyle's alleged killer Romero. "I didn't realize back then what my brother was going through but I do now," reflects William Phillips.
With rumors that Romero is currently on probation, this whole ordeal has left the Phillips family disillusioned and distrusting of the justice system. "The courts are letting these criminals loose and they're not watching them!" says Phillips.