Family wants justice in fatal hit-and-run

November 16, 2009 4:36:33 PM PST
A family is still feeling pain after their mother was killed in front of their own eyes during what was supposed to be just an ordinary day of shopping. We first brought you the shocking news on Saturday. Police say a woman was hit and killed in the parking lot of Meyerland Plaza by a suspect in a stolen Range Rover. It led to a manhunt that ended in the arrest of George Theobald, 39.

We visited the victim's daughter in Victoria and she said that her two children could also have been killed in the fatal hit-and-run that claimed the life of her mother. She wants the man police say is responsible to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"He murdered my mother and maimed by sister and my children will never be the same," said Christi Opiela, daughter of the victim.

Christi says her two children watched in horror as their grandmother, Brenda Romano, 56, was struck and killed, and their aunt Robyn Romano, 33, injured when police say this Theobald rammed a stolen SUV into the women in the Meyerland Plaza parking lot.

"She looked back and she saw my mom lying in blood and started screaming," said Christi.

Witnesses say it happened after the two trucks got into a fender bender. Christi says her 14-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son watched as Theobald panicked. They asked for his insurance information then they say he drove into the truck and deliberately backed into the victims.

"My daughter said that he hit the truck three additional times. The third time he pinned my sister," said Christi.

Robyn's leg was broken, but despite her injury, the trained EMT tried several times to revive her mother.

"She gave her mouth to mouth and when we saw my sister in the hospital and she said she tried and she feels guilty, but it's not her fault. She tried to save our mom," said Christi.

Investigators say Theobald, who is charged with murder and aggravated assault, confessed to the crime when he was arrested Sunday at a motel. People who saw the story on the news reported his location to officers who caught him at a motel.

Theobald has a lengthy rap sheet including dozens of thefts. Police say since stealing the SUV on October 10, he was involved in a robbery at a Macy's and as many as six other robberies in Houston.

Brenda Romano was married for 38 years, and for 17 years she worked at the Department of Public Safety office in Victoria, where co-workers too upset to talk on camera say she was more like a mother to them.

"She was awesome. She was selfless. Did anything for anybody. Give you the shirt off her back," said one co-worker.

Daughter Christi says there are more than two victims to this crime and they will all be in court to see justice served for their mother and grandmother.

"I expect our criminal justice system to do its duty. I expect the man to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Christi.

A memorial fund was established through the Colonial Funeral Home in Victoria, Texas, to support the Department of Public Safety's DARE program, which keeps kids away from drugs and gangs. Christi says it is exactly what her mother would want.


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