Francisco Romero

Francisco Romero

KINGMAN — A Bullhead City man pleaded guilty Wednesday to a January double-murder in Fort Mohave.

Francisco Javier Romero, Jr., 26, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and kidnapping. He is being held on a $10 million bond for the murder charge.

Romero and four other suspects are charged in the Jan. 10 murders of Mona Carter, 51, and Daryl Ward, 22, both of Bullhead City.

Under the plea agreement, Romero will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years for the murder charge. He will be sentenced to seven to 21 years in prison for the kidnapping charge.

Romero, who is represented by Randy Craig, had been charged with 26 other counts in four other cases. Those charges were dismissed under the plea agreement.

Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert will sentence Romero on Jan. 31. It will be up to the judge to decide if the sentence for kidnapping runs concurrent or consecutive to the life sentence for murder.

Romero’s co-defendants, Robin Denise Reid, 50, and Lucas Wayne Shankles, 22, are charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of kidnapping. Shankles’ murder trial is set to begin March 12, with a pre-trial hearing set for Feb. 25.

Lamya Lynn Bencheqroun, 27, and Jose Eduardo Vizcara, 29, also are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of abandonment of a dead body.

A sixth co-defendant, Justin Todd Maxwell, 36, is charged with arson of a structure and hindering prosecution.

Reid and Vizcara are held on a $7.5 million bond. Bencheqroun is held on a $5 million bond. Shankles is being held on a $1.5 million bond.

According to court and law enforcement documents, on Jan. 10 of this year, Romero picked up Ward and drove to Bencheqroun’s house. Romero, Bencheqroun, Vizcara and Shankles allegedly duct-taped Carter and Ward and drove them in an SUV to the desert east of El Rodeo Road in Fort Mohave. Maxwell reportedly arrived later and picked the suspects up and allegedly burned the SUV.

Carter was found in the SUV with a single gunshot to her head. Ward was found near the SUV shot three times in the torso, police reported.

(4) comments

JusticeforMona

My best friend lost her life and he gets a plea deal. Sometimes the justice system makes me sick.

Chachalarue

Possibility of parole.... was it Is the judicial system that flexible? 26 counts of what in 4 other cases.... We couldn’t prosecute without dropping our pants? Wonder how the other people affected by those 26 counts are feeling, likely they’re feeling dismissed!

chertime

Romero also is charged with 10 counts of forgery and one count of fraud, which allegedly involved the forging of stolen checks from a Bullhead City bank that occurred Nov. 28.

Romero is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct with a weapon and two drug charges after being arrested Dec. 10 after a shooting incident that began in Fort Mohave and ended in Bullhead City.

Romero is in a third case with possession of a vehicle with a defaced vehicle identification number and two drug charges. Police allegedly found drugs, forged documents and stolen property in his car.

chertime

^^some of the things that got dismissed.

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