Pinal County prosecutors have until March 7 to decide if they wish to seek the death penalty against a woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in Maricopa.
Kathryn Sinkevitch appeared before Judge Kevin White in Superior Court Monday. The 32-year-old Tempe woman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Maricopa resident Michael Agerter, 31. He was shot to death Dec. 16 in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado.
Family members of both were in the courtroom. The Agerter family sat in the front row, straining to see as Sinkevitch was led into the busy well of the court. Wearing eyeglasses and a maroon jumpsuit, Sinkevitch appeared in jail shackles, her hair in braids.
During the hearing, prosecutor Sean Coll’s motion to take DNA evidence from Sinkevitch was granted. Prosecution and defense have also filed motions regarding access to the rental home and the logistics of getting permission from the person currently controlling the property.
Coll also said his office was still studying the possibility of seeking the death penalty.
Public defender James Mannato said his case was “still a little up in the air” over that.
“We do not want the wheels of capital punishment to go into motion,” he said.
Agerter’s family is circumspect about the idea.
“I don’t know if she did this. If she did do it, I want her to pay for what she did,” Agerter’s mother Leslie Agerter said in an interview last month. “I’m not looking for revenge. Hopefully, the law will come up with the right punishment.”
Sinkevitch and Agerter had a child together, a boy who was only a month old at the time of his father’s death.
The oldest of the four Agerter children, Michael came to Arizona six years ago from Ohio for a job but remained close with his siblings. Leslie Agerter described her son as “a caring, giving person.”
She said he started dating Sinkevitch about three years ago. Kathryn came with him to Ohio a couple of times to visit family.
The relationship was “up and down,” Leslie Agerter said. Though Mike talked about backing away, he hesitated because she didn’t have a job at the time and would suffer financially from a breakup, his mother said.
Leslie Agerter said the family was unaware of domestic violence allegations until the day after Mike had to get medical treatment. She said he called and told them some of Sinkevitch’s violent behavior. She said Mike had planned to leave, but then Sinkevitch found out she was pregnant.
Leslie Agerter called it a “toxic relationship” that forced her son to file for an order of protection against Sinkevitch.
She said that was also why he moved to Maricopa. After an allegation Sinkevitch stole his dog and was showing up at the Maricopa property, he asked his landlord for permission to install security cameras.
He also filed papers to seek custody of the child, whom he never met.
“He was being a man and wanting to take care of his son,” his mother said.
Dec. 16, he had just given a DNA sample in the custody case and was heading back home to Maricopa when he called his sister in Ohio. Instead, his mother answered the phone. They spoke briefly before Leslie handed the phone to her daughter.
Brother and sister talked all during his drive home. Meanwhile, Leslie left her daughter’s house to return to her own home a short drive away. When she walked in the door, she discovered her daughter had been trying to reach her.
“She said they were still talking when he got to his house. She said she just heard a bang,” Leslie Agerter said. “And he wasn’t there anymore.”
Neighbors on Sagebrush Trail reported gunshots to law enforcement. From Ohio, Leslie Agerter was also trying to reach Maricopa Police to ask someone to go check on her son, not knowing they were already responding to the scene.
He was discovered deceased in the garage. His family saw the scene online from various media outlets before the appropriate person at Maricopa Police Department could officially inform her of what had transpired.
Footage from the surveillance camera at the side of the garage showed a school bus driving past the house before a figure entered camera range from across the street. It was apparently a female in a hoodie that obscured her identity.
The person left camera range by walking into the garage. A few moments later, the person left quickly, crossing the street and getting into a white caravan, which left the scene.
Sinkevitch was arrested Dec. 22 in Avondale by U.S. Marshals Fugitive Taskforce.
“If it was her, she didn’t need to go to extremes,” Leslie Agerter said. “They could have talked through this.”
Arizona Department of Child Safety took custody of the child and allowed family visits.
During Monday’s brief hearing, Leslie Agerter sat at the back of the gallery, child in arms, before the case was called. When Sinkevitch family members sat next to her, she said nothing but the bailiff had them move to the opposite side of the room.
The next pre-trial hearing is set for March 27 at 9 a.m.