Trial Begins for Man Charged in Rape, Murder of Rio Rancho Child

The trial of a Rio Rancho man charged in the rape and murder of six-year-old Ariana “Jade” Romeo three years ago is underway in Valencia County. It was moved there on a change of venue. Opening statements were made yesterday in the trial of 24-year-old Leland Hust, who faces two felony counts in Romeo’s murder. If convicted, Hust could be sentenced to life in prison. Romeo’s mother was first to testify. She explained how she found her daughter’s body, wrapped in a blanket, in her home. The coroner concluded the girl had been strangled.