Family members of homicide victim Romeo Glaze were surprised to hear Deputy District Attorney Todd Zocchi disclose in court Thursday that Michael Loftin has confessed to killing Romeo Glaze in 2014 and is scheduled to enter a plea on July 10.
The disclosure came during Loftin’s arraignment.
Loftin was arrested Wednesday in Crescent City on a no-bail warrant, accused of first-degree murder. The warrant was signed by Del Norte Superior Court Judge William Follett.
Loftin is being held in county jail.
By phone later, Zocchi declined to give specific details about the case, but said Loftin’s recorded confession came after his arrest.
According to court documents, Zocchi sought Loftin’s arrest after reviewing reports on the case by the state Department of Justice and the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office.
“Subsequent investigation revealed that Loftin admitted to multiple people, including at least, one family member, to killing Romeo Glaze,” Zocchi’s declarations stated. “Additional investigation resulted in a percipient witness (eyewitness) to the homicide giving a recorded statement that Loftin killed Glaze.”
The official complaint alleges Loftin killed Glaze “with malice aforethought,” deliberately and with premeditation. Two special allegations for use of a firearm were listed. Special allegations can add prison time to a sentence, if proven in court.
A motion was made to appoint special investigator Melanie Barry to the case to review and record information and possibly testify later.
Defense attorney Keith Morris could not be reached for comment.
Loftin is no stranger to the DA’s office, sheriff’s office and superior court, having had several encounters with law enforcement over the years.
In 2009, Loftin was in court for assaulting a prisoner in a holding cell while awaiting another court appearance. At the time, a combination of assault arrests and probation violations made him ineligible for bail.
In October 2014, Loftin avoided trial by pleading guilty to stabbing another person in the arm with an eel hook.
Court records show Loftin has made 35 appearances in county court since 2002, eight of them on criminal cases.
Asked if any of those resulted in a strike offense and why it was not listed in the complaint, Zocchi said the 2014 case involving the eel hook resulted in a two-year prison sentence and a felony strike, but occurred after the homicide.
A surprising turn
Glaze’s sisters Kristina Glaze and Cindy Glaze, both said Friday they were still shocked by the news of a confession.
However, for Cindy, now living in Hawaii, the news leaves her with a lot of questions.
“I’m really happy to hear it. It just floors me. It’s been a long time waiting,” Cindy said, adding she wonders about many details of the confession and what evidence the prosecution had that may have prompted it.
Saying she had heard Loftin may have been trying to get his life together and clean up, she added, “I wish my brother had gotten a chance to get his life together...”
Cindy made yearly visits to the Triplicate to remind people the case was still open and ask for people to come forward with information.
“I’m hoping that helped, in some way with the case,” she said.
While news of the confession was welcome to her, Cindy called it a shame the case didn’t go to trial, as she still wants to know what happened the day her brother was killed. She said she’s heard several rumors over the years, and would like to know how many others were involved.
She added that although she’s had many negative things to say about the sheriff’s office, she now wants to thank them for their work, because it shows “his life meant something to them.”
“I really didn’t think this day would ever happen,” she said, noting that her sister has been greatly affected by the case.
By phone Friday, Kristina said she was taken aside by Zocchi before Loftin’s arraignment and told of the confession.
“He cannot take that back,” she said. “It was properly obtained.”
Kristina said she had hated Loftin for years and was planning to move from the area to avoid the pain of seeing him around Crescent City.
“Everyone said to pray for him and forgive him, but I don’t forgive him,” she said. “So instead, I started to pray for him to find it in his heart to come clean.”
Kristina said she had also heard rumors, but believes that Glaze was killed over $40 alleged to have been taken from Loftin’s mother.
She noted her brother learned to speak Hungarian in a year, was kind and intelligent, and could have gone anywhere but got into drugs.
“I loved my brother, I raised him. He was beautiful” she said. “He had a heart of gold, but... drugs. Drugs are the devil.”
Kristina also said she appreciates the work by sheriff’s detectives and the DA’s Office, even though she was upset in the past.
“I was upset because I wasn’t seeing any results,” she said.
As for Loftin and his future, Kristina said while she’s feeling slightly better, she doesn’t forgive him.
“He owes and he’s going to have to pay,” she said. “Maybe now he can do it with a clear heart.”