Youngsville woman pleads to lesser charge in fatal shooting of boyfriend _lowres

Tammy Romero

A woman who shot her boyfriend in the couple’s Youngsville home in 2012 has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, a lesser offense than the manslaughter charge she originally faced.

Tammy Romero faces up to five years in prison in the July 23, 2012, shooting death of Victor Wirtz, who was 45 when police found him on the floor of the bathroom around midnight. Wirtz was shot once in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun and later pronounced dead, according to court documents.

State District Judge Patrick Michot has not set a sentencing date for Romero, who pleaded guilty Jan. 16.

Michele Billeaud, the assistant district attorney for the 15th Judicial District office that prosecuted the case, was unavailable for comment Thursday. Romero’s attorney, Baton Rouge-based James Boren, said Michot ordered a presentencing report.

Romero was originally charged with manslaughter, an offense that carries a maximum 40-year prison sentence at hard labor. Prosecutors later reduced the charge to negligent homicide.

Wirtz and Romero, who shared a home on Cedar Hills Drive, had a “dysfunctional relationship,” prosecutor Billeaud wrote in one court filing.

On the night Wirtz was killed, the couple had been awakened by barking dogs and started arguing, Billeaud said in a July 2014 document.

Before she called 911 to report she’d shot Wirtz, Romero called the Youngsville Police Department’s main phone line. She wanted to have Wirtz removed from the home after he hit her in the back of the head, prosecutor Billeaud said in court papers.

“She wasn’t intending to press charges for this hit to the back of the head because she wasn’t scared or hurt, just angry,” Billeaud wrote. “This was not the first time Romero had called the police to have Wirtz removed from the house.”

“This was all a pattern of their dysfunctional relationship,” Billeaud wrote.

Police did not show up at the home until after Romero called 911 at 11:35 p.m. to report she’d shot Wirtz.

Romero in 2013 filed a lawsuit against the Youngsville Police Department, claiming officers didn’t do enough to protect her from Wirtz, who she claimed was violent and abusive. The status of that lawsuit, filed in federal court, was unclear Thursday evening. The attorney representing Youngsville, John Wilkes III, did not return a call Thursday.

Boren, Romero’s attorney, alleged in the criminal case that Romero was acting in self-defense when she shot her boyfriend.

“Wirtz employed the use of physical force toward Romero that created a reasonable fear in Romero’s mind that she was in immediate danger,” Boren wrote. “These hostile demonstrations by Wirtz happened almost simultaneously with the fatal shooting.”