A coroner’s report on Michael and Tina Careccia indicates the presence of methamphatamine and amphetamines in their systems.
The autopsy report was released by the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Though the cause of death in both cases was a penetrating gunshot wound to the head, the apparent presence of meth may play into the defense case being put together for the man charged with their killing, Jose Valenzuela Jr.
Valenzuela, 38, faces two counts of first-degree murder. According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the Careccias were killed June 21 at Valenzuela’s home on Papago Road and then buried sometime the next day next to the house with a borrowed backhoe.
When first taken into custody on July 1, Valenzuela reportedly told detectives he had been high on meth at the time. He said the Careccias and his roommate Felix Nunez were also doing meth.
Exactly what led up to the shootings is still not clear. According to PCSO, Valenzuela had been at the Careccias’ home two streets away that day for a Father’s Day celebration. The Careccias then went to Valenzuela’s home that night.
The only witnesses to the crime, Nunez and Valenzuela told investigators there was some kind of fight. Nunez, 38, told detectives Michael Careccia, 44, was shot first.
The men’s stories differ on some points, however, which may also be important in future court proceedings.
The weapon used in the shootings is believed to be Valenzuela’s .22 caliber Magnum.
The autopsy showed the Careccias had consumed alcohol and Tina Careccia, 42, also had traces of tranquilizers in her system.
Valenzuela’s next hearing date is set for Oct. 5 in Florence. He is represented by Pinal County Public Defender James Mannato, who is mulling a challenge to the grand jury proceedings that led to Valenzuela’s indictment.