Suspect in murder of 100-year-old was released from jail for overcrowding

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno County district attorney's office filed murder charges against David Anthony Romero Thursday in the death of 100-year old Joe Fischer.

Romero was arrested for auto theft last year, but he was released from jail. He was arrested again, and then released again three weeks before investigators say he attacked Fischer.

A grainy, black & white booking photo gives us our first look at the man accused of murdering the Sanger centenarian. David Anthony Romero is sitting in the Fresno County jail, a place with which he's familiar.

A search of court records showed Romero served time for grand theft in 2007 and was arrested again last year for auto theft. But the sheriff's office released him twice because of overcrowding, the last time on July 14.

On Aug. 8, he's accused of the deadly beating against Joe Fischer -- a thought that bothers Fischer's sister. "If this man hadn't been out loose, he wouldn't have had the desire to rob somebody or whatever he wanted to do, then my brother would still be alive," said 84-year-old Alyce Holland.

Suspected car thieves are released in large numbers from the jail -- five of them got out on Wednesday alone.

And until the sheriff's office re-opens closed jail floors, there's no room for most non-violent criminals.

"I don't think there's been any scientific research that's linked vehicle theft to murder, but yes, you know, we make a decision and we kept people in jail who had committed violent crimes and we released this one," said Fresno County Undersheriff Scott Jones.

Fischer's family has been buoyed by the support of friends and strangers.

Dozens attended vigils and memorials for him shortly after his death.

And even now that she can put a face to the suspected killer, Fischer's sister is not holding a grudge.

"If he had a rotten childhood, I feel sorry for the man that he turned to this kind of a life of crime -- not just to my brother, but for everything he's done," she said. "May God forgive him."

Romero is charged with first degree murder, and doing it while also committing an attempted robbery.

He's scheduled for an arraignment Friday.

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