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Lee Trikojat (BCSO photo)

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office helped nab an online child sex predator in Florida earlier this month.

According to information released by PCSO on Wednesday, Lee Trikojat, 31, of Cocoa, Florida, was arrested for alleged online sex crimes after he contacted a PCSO special investigator who was posing as a 14-year-old girl in an online chatroom.

After discussing their age multiple times, the report says, Trikojat asked the undercover detective to “keep their relationship a secret,” and sent inappropriate pictures of himself to the detective.

The detective reached out to investigators in Florida who then, posing as a 13-year-old girl, established contact with the suspect. Trikojat was arrested after trying to meet to the supposed 13-year-old and charged with “using a computer to solicit and transmit harmful images to minors,” the report says.

The incident struck a nerve with Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.

“Being a father, it angers me that there are people out there that want to manipulate and harm our children,” Lamb said. “No matter where they are, I’m proud our investigators are able to work with agencies across the nation to get these people off the streets.”

PCSO spokesperson Navideh Forgahni said the sheriff’s office has a special unit dedicated to tracking down and capturing online sexual predators.

Reminding parents and kids to be vigilant, she warned how manipulative online sexual predators can be.

“They’re very quick and very good at reeling these kids in,” Forgahni said. “He [Trikojat] told this child, or who he thought was a child, that they [the child] were going to get in trouble if they told anybody.”

Brevard County court documents show Trikojat was charged with “use of computer services to solicit or seduce a child” and “in state electronic transmission of harmful info to minors.” Both charges are third-degree felonies in Florida, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Trikojat posted a $70,000 bond and was released from Brevard County Jail on July 11.

PCSO has a history working on multiple national and international cases concerned with online sex crime against children, helping with investigations as far away as New Zealand.

Tyler Miller (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa man was arrested after an alleged domestic violence incident when the victim was denied access to her phone, forcing her to use a computer and social media to call for help.

According to a Maricopa Police Department, at approximately 1 p.m. on July 9, Tyler Miller, 25, allegedly entered a verbal altercation that became physical. During the altercation, the victim was tackled to ground, causing abrasions on her feet, and placed in a “rear choke hold,” the report states.

Miller allegedly released his hold after approximately five seconds, but continued to closely monitor her actions the rest of the day, preventing her from leaving the residence.

The victim reported to MPD officers that Miller also allegedly held a “stun gun” to her face as she walked around the house to check on their child and use the bathroom.

Around 10:30 p.m., while Miller was smoking a cigarette outside, the victim reportedly used Facebook to contact a friend who then contacted MPD.

When officers arrived at the residence there was no immediate answer at the door, according to the report. A few moments later, officers heard a female scream come from inside the home. The officers made entry and found the victim in a locked room, the report said.

Miller had fled the home prior to MPD entering. However, he was later apprehended when police received calls that a man fitting his description was knocking on a neighbor’s door around 2 a.m. seeking medical attention for a shoulder injury.

After his arrest, Miller allegedly admitted to fleeing the house when MPD showed up. He also admitted to taking the stun gun with him and leaving it in an unknown backyard.

Miller is currently being held at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on a $2,500 bond.

In all, Miller was charged with a total of four crimes as a result of the incident including unlawful imprisonment, aggravated assault with strangulation, assault and threatening.  If convicted, the charges carry a punishment of 4-10 years.

Jose Valenzuela is accused of the June 2015 murders of Tina and Michael Careccia. PCSO photo

At a procedural hearing Monday, an attorney for a local man being tried for a double murder was accused by the county’s prosecutor of violating ethical standards for comments he made to the media regarding the case.

Public Defender James Mannato, legal counsel for Jose Valenzuela, appeared in a Pinal County courtroom with his client July 17 for a status review hearing when the allegations of unethical conduct were lodged by special prosecutor Gary Husk.

Husk alleged statements made to a Pinal County newspaper regarding certain “sealed” subpoenas exceeded the ethical boundaries of legal counsel. The statements made to the newspaper, Husk believes, could have an impact on the objectivity of the public and potential jurors.

“We can try this matter in the press, or we can try this matter in the courtroom,” Husk said while addressing the court on Monday.

Mannato responded to the allegations of ethical violations by drawing attention to the fact then-Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu made public remarks about Valenzuela’s guilt at the time of his arrest. This, Mannato said, did much more to prejudice public opinion of his client than any of his statements to the newspaper.

“I have been trying to find ways to counteract that [Babeu’s statements] ever since,” Mannato said.

Mannato stated he is within the boundaries of section 3.6(b) of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which states legal counsel will not make any statements to media if the statements “have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”

Specifically, Mannato invoked subsection (b)(2) of that rule, which states information that is part of the public record can be discussed with media.

Husk, undeterred by the explanation, expressed his intent to file a motion to have the subpoenas unsealed.

In an exchange between the two lawyers outside the courtroom Mannato said he never asked for the subpoenas to be sealed and anything discussed with the reporter was available in the case file.

Nonetheless, Husk claimed to have never seen the subpoenas, which were in regard to phone records of one of the victims, Michael Careccia.

Though unwilling to make a public comment about the allegations of unethical conduct, Mannato did state his intent to possibly file a motion to have the death penalty taken off the table.

Citing a pending case with the Arizona Supreme Court that aims to establish a uniform application of the death penalty in all Arizona counties, Mannato plans to follow the line of argument that capital punishment is unequally applied across counties and thus unconstitutional in its current form.

“You have a situation where you could commit the same exact crime in the same circumstance in one county and find yourself looking at the death penalty,” Mannato said “But, if you do it in the poorer county you won’t because they don’t have the funds to fund the prosecution of capital cases, because it’s very expensive.”

The next status review hearing was set for Aug 28 at 3 p.m. in Judge Kevin White’s courtroom in Superior Court in Florence.

A tentative trial date has been set for Jan. 23, 2018, at 9 a.m. at the same location.

Ariel Vizcarra-Garcia. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man temporarily escaped police custody early Sunday morning after being arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred the previous night.

According to reports from the Maricopa Police Department, Ariel Vizcarra-Garcia, 20, was being prepared for transport to the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage when the alleged escape took place.

Officers were planning to place Vizcarra in a transport vehicle when he allegedly became sick and started to vomit, the report said.

The escorting officer reportedly uncuffed one of Vizcarra’s hands to allow him to brace himself while he vomited in the rocks near the sally port in the rear of the main police station.

While partially uncuffed, Vizcarra then allegedly broke loose from the escorting officer’s grip and scaled a metal fence surrounding the department’s vehicle pool.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said Vizcarra successfully evaded officers’ initial attempts at capture, and an area-wide search was quickly initiated.

Despite help from Ak-Chin Police and Customs and Border Patrol, Alvarado said they were unable to immediately locate Vizcarra.

However, knowing he lived relatively close to the police station, Alvarado said, officers went to Vizcarra’s house, where he showed up a short time later and was detained without further incident.

In addition to the initial charges, Vizcarra is now facing charges of theft for fleeing with the handcuffs and escape in the third degree – a class 6 felony –  for escaping detention.

If convicted, Alvarado said, the escape charge is likely to make Vizcarra a “high risk” inmate, turning otherwise simple charges of criminal damage and disorderly conduct into offenses that could land him in a maximum-security detention center.

The MPD report states Vizcarra was initially arrested on the domestic violence related charges after a verbal argument with his “live-in” girlfriend turned violent when he allegedly began punching holes in multiple doors at the couple’s residence.

With charges combined, Vizcarra could face six years or more in prison if convicted.

Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

The woman charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of 31-year-old Michael Agerter last December had a new lawyer represent her in a Pinal County Superior Courtroom Monday.

Florence attorney Bret Huggins made his first appearance defending Kathryn Sinkevitch, 32, whose trial is scheduled to begin in May of next year.

The former public defender for Sinkevitch, James Mannato, withdrew from the case in June.

In court documents, Mannato motioned to withdraw from the Sinkevitch case, citing “conflict of interest” under the authority of Arizona State Bar Ethical Rule 1.16.

Mannato said he could not make public comment about nor clarify his decision to withdraw.

Huggins entered his notice of appearance to the court on June 28, and represented Sinkevitch for the first time in front of Judge Kevin White Monday morning.

His work on the case is just beginning as Huggins works to collect evidence and documents first obtained by Mannato.

“I’m trying to get the discovery that the public defender had and I haven’t got that all together yet,” Huggins said.

Court documents show the prosecution, in preparation for trial, has called the Phoenix Police Department Crime Lab as witness to the case. There is also notice to the defendant of evidence including jail mail, forensic audio, forensic video reports and power of attorney.

In June, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office motioned for the taking of a sample of Sinkevitch’s hair and buccal swabs for evidence by Maricopa Police Department Detective Michael Dennison.

Buccal swabs collect DNA from the inside of a person’s cheek or mouth.

“Defendants hair and buccal swabs are needed in order for the Federal Bureau of Investigations to conduct a comparison examination,” the motion stated.

Hair samples will also be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety for comparison examination as well, according to another court document.

Sinkevitch is accused of shooting Agerter, her ex-boyfriend, in the garage of his Maricopa rental home in December. The two lived separately, but had an infant son together.

Agerter was reportedly attempting to gain parental rights to the child who was 1-month-old at the time of the murder.

Sinkevitch will be in court for a review hearing Aug. 28 at 9 a.m.

Hezekiah Turner. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man was arrested on aggravated domestic violence charges June 27 after an alleged violent incident took place involving a family member.

A Maricopa Police report shows Hezekiah Turner, 20, was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage after a verbal argument with a family member allegedly turned violent.

Turner, who in the past 15 months had been charged in three other domestic violence cases, allegedly began screaming and then punching multiple holes in the walls of a family member’s home, according to the report.

He then purportedly threw multiple items across the house, the report said, causing his family member to fear for their safety.

Upon reviewing Turner’s criminal record, police decided to additionally charge him with aggravated domestic violence, his fourth DV charge since April 2016.

“Due to Hezekiah being arrested for domestic violence more than three times in 84 months he is also charged with aggravated domestic violence, which is a Class 5 felony,” the police report stated.

In Arizona, a class 5 felony concerning repetitive dangerous offenses can result in five to eight years in prison.

Turner is being held at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center in Florence on a $2,500 bond.

 

Other Maricopa arrests:

Thomas William Clark, 67, was arrested by a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy June 30 on multiple charges. He was taken into custody in the 50000 block of West Val Vista Road.

Charges include possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, possession of dangerous drugs for use, possession of dangerous drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mauro Padilla Jr., 33, was arrested by PCSO on July 4 at 7 p.m. on Padilla Road. He is charged with criminal damage and disorderly conduct.

Russell E. Klock faces charges after an incident at John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man has been charged with aggravated assault after allegedly following another driver home and threatening him with a firearm following a road-rage incident. The quarrel happened four days before a much-publicized road-rage confrontation this week.

Maricopa police reports indicate Russell E. Klock, 57, was arrested and charged with assault and aggravated assault after he allegedly punched a motorist during an altercation at a stoplight and then followed the individual home, where he proceeded to threaten him with a gun.

The initial altercation June 22 occurred at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway,where, according to the report, Klock, apparently angered by another driver, Edwin Gonzales, began a verbal exchange with him that escalated to a physical confrontation.

“The verbal altercation turned physical when Russell got out of his vehicle, approached the driver side of Edwin’s vehicle when the window was rolled down and struck Edwin on the left forearm, leaving a red mark,” the report stated.

Klock then allegedly followed Gonzales to his home where he threatened Gonzales with the firearm. Gonzales, “fearing for his life,” attempted to defend himself by throwing a shovel at Klock’s vehicle, but missed.

After attempting to retrieve the shovel from the street, Gonzales claims, Klock proceeded to chase him with his gun drawn and pointed at Gonzales.

According to the report, the two men then ran around Klock’s vehicle in a “clock-wise” direction when Gonzales began yelling for help, asking two neighbors who were outside at the time to call 911.

At that time Klock allegedly got back in his vehicle, yelled,“I know where you live,” and drove off, according to the report.

Based on the two witnesses’ statements, police proceeded to question Klock, who allegedly admitted to being involved in the incident, though he did not admit to drawing a weapon or pointing it at Gonzales.

Klock has been charged with assault for allegedly striking Gonzales on the forearm, and aggravated assault for allegedly chasing and threatening Gonzales with a firearm.

Arizona Revised Statute classifies the act of “Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person” as a Class 1 misdemeanor Assault punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The Arizona Revised Statute further classifies aggravated assault as simple assault “using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument in the commission of the offense,” elevating the crime from a misdemeanor to a Class 3 felony punishable by 5-15 years in prison.

Monday, another road-rage incident on State Route 347 had drivers breaking each other’s windows at the stoplight at Smith-Enke Road.

Sisters Shell Abbott (left) and Eliah Abbott hold a photo of their brother Josiah Abbott, who died in 2014. Photo by Michelle Chance

It was a one-vehicle crash that took the lives of two teenagers Christmas night nearly three years ago.

Josiah Abbott, 15-years-old, and Morgan Martin, 14, were passengers inside a friend’s truck that rolled on Papago Road in Thunderbird Farms.

In early May, the driver of the vehicle pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent homicide. William Gay, 25, was sentenced to 2.5 years in the Department of Corrections for each count when he appeared in a Pinal County Superior courtroom on June 12.

According to the plea agreement supplied by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the two imprisonment terms will “run concurrently with each other.”

Josiah Abbott and Morgan Martin were victims of negligent homicide on Christmas night 2014. Submitted photos

Josiah’s older sister, Shell Abbott, said no amount of prison time would heal the pain caused by her brother’s death.

“The whole family had pretty much come to a consensus that some time or no time wouldn’t change the outcome of our hearts and how much we miss him and how much we think of Morgan,” Abbott said. “It wasn’t going to change that.”

Abbott said Josiah was charismatic and enjoyed making the women and girls in his life know they matter.

“Josiah had a way about making women feel special, and you could be 92 or you could be 3,” she said.

 The loss of Josiah and the emotional support he provided, she said, is comparable to the sensation of a phantom limb that has been amputated.

“You know it doesn’t exist, but in your brain it really does. You can still move it, but you can’t put weight on it because it’s not there,” Shell said.

William “Bubba” Gay. PCSO photo

Abbott said she is reminded every day she cannot lean on her brother. His young life was taken along with another’s from an accident caused by Gay — a friend of the family whom they refer to as “Bubba.”

“I think that’s the hardest part because Bubba will be able to get back out, and for him he’s not missing a limb,” Shell said.

Gay was a roommate in Abbott’s home at the time of Josiah and Morgan’s death. Abbott said she felt Gay did not take responsibility for the families’ losses. Additionally, she said Gay did not apologize to her. After a while, because of Gay’s behavior, she told him he needed to leave.

“Even through everything that Bubba’s done, we don’t hate him,” she said. “There is hurt, but I also understand that Bubba, whether he addresses it or not, is also hurting because Josiah was his friend – a very close friend.”

Gay taught Josiah about cars, Abbott said, and because Gay had a driver’s license and Josiah did not, the friends drove around together frequently.

Shell Abbott said her mother, Ranelle Abbott, requested in court that Gay receive counseling.

“I think that’s the only reason why him being in prison is actually a good thing,  … the fact that it will give him a lot of time to think,” Shell Abbott said.

Josiah Abbott romping with dog Filly. Photo by Rahannah Abbott

Even as a young child, Josiah was bright and had entrepreneurial tendencies, she said. At 4 years old, he began a small frog farm. In buckets, he placed tadpoles at varying points in development. By age 9, Josiah switched from frogs to chickens, and he made business cards to promote the eggs he sold.

Josiah would be 18-years-old now, and Shell Abbott said it saddens her to think of what he could have accomplished.

“There was no doubt in my mind that when he grew up he was going to own his own business and he was going to be able to do the job, whatever it was,” Abbott said. “Because of his charisma with people, there wasn’t a thing that he wouldn’t have been able to do in his life.”

The last Abbott family photo that included Josiah (top). Submitted photo

Eric Scott, Jan. 26, 2017, in Latah County, Idaho

The Maricopa Police Department is seeking to charge an Idaho man for multiple child-sex crimes that allegedly occurred while the man briefly lived in Maricopa more than five years ago.

Eric Noel Scott, 47, was arrested Jan. 26 by Idaho State Police in Latah County, Idaho, on charges of rape involving a minor after allegedly confessing to his ex-wife that he had done so over a two-year period, an MPD report said.

Scott’s alleged admission included the period of time from 2011-2012 when he lived in Maricopa, the report stated.

Capt. Lonnie Richardson of the Idaho State Police confirmed his department’s role in Scott’s arrest, but was unable to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

While being interviewed by Idaho State Police, Scott allegedly made the statement, “It’s hard to describe. The first time I touched [the minor] I was so angry with myself, like, I cannot believe I did that… I was ashamed of myself and the mere temptation, and it just gradually grew in time.”

Latah County court documents indicate Scott posted a $200,000 surety bond on Feb. 1. He is currently free on bail pending trial.

MPD filed its complaint against Scott on June 5, with charges of sexual conduct with a minor and molestation of a child.

InMaricopa is following this story and will provide updates as they become available.

Bobby Tyler. PCSO photo

A man was arrested May 25 for allegedly driving and then crashing a stolen vehicle that had been painted with house paint in an attempt to disguise it.

Bobby Tyler, 31, allegedly wrecked the stolen, originally red, 2007 Chevrolet Equinox on May 15 after a confrontation with a security guard in the Senita subdivision, according to a report from the Maricopa Police Department.

Tyler was approached by Senita security guard Jonathan Lounsbury at around 1:15 a.m. after Lounsbury spotted the “white” SUV parked at a closed community park, according to the MPD report.

After a brief verbal exchange with Lounsbury, Tyler reportedly drove away at a “high rate of speed.” The vehicle eventually crashed on Honeycutt Road not far from Senita. When police arrived, the vehicle had been abandoned.

Officers responding to the accident conducted a standard registration search and discovered the vehicle was reported stolen out of Casa Grande on May 7.

Lounsbury, who later identified Tyler in a photo line-up, also identified the SUV to be the one Tyler was allegedly driving.

Earlier the same night of the accident, Tyler had reportedly contacted an officer while stopped at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, asking if it was OK to make a right turn in the construction zone.

The officer, who noted the SUV had what appeared to be “white primer paint,” advised Tyler on how to handle the right turn. Without an indication of unlawful activity, the officer carried on with patrol.

MPD spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado said an anonymous tip led to Tyler’s apprehension 10 days later at Copper Sky.

“We received a tip Tyler was going to be at the skate park,” Alvarado said. “We had dealings with him in the past so we were able to ID him and apprehend him without incident.”

Tyler allegedly told police he had “obtained the vehicle in exchange for drugs.”

Tyler was charged with unlawful use of means of transportation, a Class 6 felony punishable by six months to two years in prison. He is on parole after serving 10 years for manslaughter caused by recklessness  in a 2005 case in Stanfield.

MPD photo

Jose Valenzuela is accused of the June 2015 murders of Tina and Michael Careccia. PCSO photo

A Pinal County judge struck down a motion Thursday aimed at returning one of Maricopa’s most high-profile murder cases to a grand jury on the grounds that jurors were prejudiced by prosecutors’ actions and their declared intent to seek the death penalty.

Public Defender James Mannato, representing alleged double-murderer Jose Valenzuela, filed the motion to remand the case to another grand jury based on potential bias and what he called “unintentionally false” facts presented to the grand jury which ultimately “reduced their objectivity.” Had his argument been successful, it would have been the third grand jury in the case.

Valenzuela, 40, is accused of murdering Michael and Tina Careccia in June 2015. Mannato already had the first indictment thrown out, forcing Pinal County to convene a second grand jury last year for a re-indictment.

Thursday, Mannato argued three factors contributed to the potential bias of the grand jury, none of which convinced Judge Kevin White that Valenzuela was denied any “substantial procedural right.”

The first indication of potential prejudice, Mannato argued, was a public disclosure by then-County Attorney Lando Voyles regarding his intent to seek the death penalty, which could have weakened the grand jury’s objectivity.

White said that assertion was “speculative on defense’s part.”

Second, Mannato said, by walking the grand jury through the first-degree murder conviction process, jurors were unfairly pushed to consider first-degree murder as the only charge, when in fact the jurors can and should consider all possible charges, including lesser forms of homicide such as manslaughter.

White said Mannato’s point does not indicate bias per precedent, stating improper proceedings do not call for remand unless “the testimony prejudiced or damage defendant,” which White does not believe happened.  

The third point Mannato made, was regarding questions posed to law enforcement officers by county prosecutors that may have “misled” the grand jury into believing one of the victims, Tina Careccia, was shot at point blank range in the back of the head when in fact the entry wound was located on top of her skull, according to police statements

White said any potential misstatements or “misleading” questions based on the exact location of the victim’s wounds do not detract from the fact the medical examiner declared the wound to have been made at point-blank range, indicating possible premeditation.

Valenzuela’s trial is set for Jan. 23. The prosecution is being conducted by special prosecutor Gary Husk after Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer recused his office.

 

 

Mark Grimes (PCSO photo)

Maricopa police officers arrested an allegedly intoxicated driver last week and charged him with aggravated DUI because he had four kids in the car, according to police reports.

Thirty-nine-year-old Mark Grimes was arrested May 1 and charged with seven different crimes in all, after officers responded to Big 5 Sporting Goods on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway around 4:30 p.m. regarding an alleged violent threat he made against his fiancée.

After he fled the scene in a red Acura, MPD located Grimes at the stoplight at Casa-Grande Highway and John Wayne Parkway.

After initiating a stop and positively identifying Grimes, the report stated officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person and noticed he had “blood-shot and watery eyes and slurred speech.”

The arresting officer counted four children in the back seat and “none of them were wearing seatbelts,” according to the report.

Grimes also allegedly admitted to being in possession of marijuana, which was located and confirmed to be the illegal substance.

Officers conducted a standard field sobriety test, during which Grimes showed signs of impairment. Further testing indicated his Blood Alcohol Content to be above .15 percent.

In all, Grimes was charged with possession of marijuana, DUI, standard DUI (BAC of .08 or more), Extreme DUI (BAC of .15 or more), aggravated DUI (with person under age of 15 in vehicle), child endangerment and threatening or intimidating.

The combined charges carry a punishment of five to eight years in prison (more if charges compound punishments).

Grimes is being held  at the Pinal County Detention center in Florence.

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

By Michelle Chance

The Maricopa man accused of killing his wife with a sword in December will not face the death penalty.

According to court documents, state prosecutors have until May 5 to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Miguel Figueroa Sr.

However, Pinal County Attorney’s Office spokesman James Tanner said the state is not pursuing a capital case, and could not provide an explanation behind its decision because the case is still ongoing.

Inside a county courtroom Monday, 45-year-old Figueroa stood clothed in a jumpsuit and shackles alongside defense attorney Paula Cook.

Judge Kevin White approved Cook’s request to extend the date of a future hearing, which will determine Figueroa’s trial date.

Cook said she could not comment on the details of the case.

In December, Maricopa Police arrested Figueroa after he allegedly used a sword to kill his wife Olivia. That night, police found the victim’s body with multiple stab wounds in a desert area near the Heritage District.

Figueroa was later indicted by a grand jury on four felonies, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault.

Figueroa’s trial date will be decided in court on June 12 at 9 a.m.

The Circle K in Stanfield was robbed early Wednesday morning.

Wednesday at 2:44 a.m. the Pinal County Sheriff’s 9-1-1 Communications Center received a call from a clerk reporting that an armed robbery had just occurred at the Circle K at 36935 W. Highway 84 in Stanfield.

Two males entered the store while a third waited in the driver’s seat of a red car. The two in the store were wearing bandanas over their faces, sunglasses and hooded jackets to disguise their identities.

“The clerk had been stocking a shelf when he noticed the two suspects standing at the register area,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “As the clerk walked behind the counter, he observed one of the suspects exposing a handgun. The suspect said to the clerk, ‘You know what it is, Homie.’ The suspect then demanded the money from the register. The second suspect stood by as the clerk handed the gunman the money from the register.”

The men left and no one was injured.

“Video footage taken from the store shows the suspects getting out of a red four door sedan that was parked on the east side of the building,” Babeu said. “The vehicle has heavy oxidation on the roof and hood. The driver of the vehicle was observed remaining in the vehicle. When the suspects walked to the front of the store, the driver pulled out from the parking space, out of view from the camera’s range.”

If anybody recognizes the suspects involved or vehicle, they are asked to contact the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office at 520-866-5111.

stanfield-robbery-car

Burglary of unsecured vehicles parked on streets or driveways remains a top crime in Maricopa, which still has one of the lowest burglary rates in the state.

Using FBI crime numbers from 2015, a national security company named Maricopa to its Top 10 list of burglary-safe Arizona cities.

Maricopa is No. 8.

Protect America’s annual list is comprised of data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report. That reported 94 burglaries within Maricopa’s population of more than 48,000 last year.

“A lot of the credit does need to go to the community members who look out for each other, who talk with each other,” Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said. “We live in a community where people really do care about each other. Whether it’s a brand new development or the Heritage District where everybody knows everybody, we look out for each other, and that’s what makes a safe community.”

Stahl said the third-highest call for service is suspicious activity. He views that as a sign residents are watching their neighborhoods.

“Our hope in creating these Top 10 lists is to raise burglary awareness and offer home security tips to communities that need them,” said Zane Schwarzlose, community liaison with Protect America.

Maricopa was the second-largest Arizona city in the so-called Safe Zone. Gilbert was No. 9 on the list. No. 1 in the Safe Zone was Florence with just 1.26 burglaries per 1,000 people, though Stahl pointed out the stats include prisoners in population numbers. Meanwhile, Tolleson had the highest ratio of burglaries to residents last year at 31 per 1,000 people.

Chief Steve Stahl
Chief Steve Stahl

“We value CompStat. We look at daily crime, daily trends, weekly trends,” Stahl said. “And if we are seeing a concern, the operations commander collects his people to address those things.”

That involves a crime analyst and a partnership with the Arizona Fusion Center to find likely suspects. When burglaries and thefts increase in a neighborhood, analysis helps officers find a cause.

“It could be one a variety of things: Somebody just got released from jail and now they’re back to their old ways; it could be that the HOA made some new rule that not everyone has to keep their coach lights on all the time anymore; it could be somebody new moved into the neighborhood,” Stahl said.

With CompStat, MPD identifies problems and develops a plan to approach the problem, including officers canvassing on foot.

The key to successfully finding a deterrent is the “relentless follow-up.” For Stahl, that means, “solving that problem to the chief’s satisfaction.”

He credits volunteers and their house-watch program with being a great crime deterrent. The program gives MPD another marked vehicle and another set of eyes in neighborhoods.

The most common theft in Maricopa comes back to residents’ behavior – allowing possessions to be easy pickings.

“Unfortunately, at least seven out of 10 of our break-ins are unlocked vehicles and open doors and open windows,” Stahl said. “I mean, everybody wants to enjoy the nice, cool nights now. People still need to vigilant and take measures to protect themselves.”

Unlocked cars parked on streets or in driveways, especially unlighted driveways, are a particular temptation. Stahl has always asked residents to park their vehicles in their garages, but simply locking vehicles is a burglary-prevention tactic.

“Most bad people, if the door is locked and you haven’t left anything visible in the car, they’re going to go to the next car,” Stahl said. “If they have to force their way in, they’re going to leave some evidence behind.”

Report: http://bit.ly/2ebQ0Pq

2016 Arizona Burglary Safe Zones
1. Florence: Population 26,926, Burglaries 34 [1.26 burglaries per 1,000 people]
2. Mammoth: Population 1,476, Burglaries 2 [1.36]
3. Sahuarita: Population 28,067, Burglaries 44 [1.57]
4. Thatcher: Population 5,065, Burglaries 8 [1.58]
5. Marana: Population 41,302, Burglaries 69 [1.67]
6. Willcox: Population 3,569, Burglaries 6 [1.68]
7. Oro Valley: Population 42,258, Burglaries 79 [1.87]
8. Maricopa: Population 48,193, Burglaries 94 [1.95]
9. Gilbert: Population 247,324, Burglaries 530 [2.14]
10. Sedona: Population 10,340, Burglaries 25 [2.42]

2016 Arizona Burglary Hot Spots
1. Tolleson: Population 7,029, Burglaries 219 [31.17]
2. Miami: Population 1,771, Burglaries 42 [23.72]
3. Quartzsite: Population 3,613, Burglaries 65 [17.99]
4. Globe: Population 7,333, Burglaries 89 [12.14]
5. Wickenburg: Population 6,760, Burglaries 69 [10.21]
6. Holbrook: Population 5,007, Burglaries 48 [9.59]
7. Apache Junction: Population 38,519, Burglaries 352 [9.14]
8. El Mirage: Population 33,985, Burglaries 282 [8.30]
9. Glendale: Population 240,374, Burglaries 1,986 [8.26]
10. Phoenix: Population 1,559,744, Burglaries 12,798 [8.21]

Manuel Amador-Aispuro (from left), Ramon Martinez and Josue Teran Grandarills were arrested in Maricopa Wednesday. PCSO photos

Three men were arrested by Pinal County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday near Cobblestone Farms on charges of transporting 283 pounds of marijuana.

Manuel Amador-Aispuro, 19, Ramon Martinez, 21, and Josue Teran Grandarills, 21, were taken into custody at 9:30 a.m. They allegedly admitted to being in the country illegally.

The three had led PCSO on a high-speed chase after initially being stopped for speeding at Ralston and Mockingbird Lane southwest of Maricopa. A PCSO helicopter tracked their SUV into Maricopa.

The three men stopped in the residential area near State Route 238 and SR 347 and fled on foot. The helicopter crew led the deputies on the ground to their locations.

All three men were booked on charges of possession of marijuana for use, possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana. Amador, the driver, was also charged with unlawful flight from law enforcement.

They were booked into the PCSO detention facility and each has a $50,000 bond. Their court hearing is set for Nov. 4 in Superior Court.

Carlos Avalos
Carlos Avalos

Also arrested Wednesday by PCSO in an unrelated incident, Maricopa resident Carlos Avalos, 46, was charged with a dangerous drug violation.

He was arrested at 9:47 a.m. His bond is $25,000, and his preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 1.

 

The State Troopers SWAT approaches a home in the old section of Maricopa. Photo by R. Mason Callejas

Arizona State Troopers helped Maricopa Police Department serve search warrants on two residences off Pershing Street in the Heritage District Wednesday morning. Access streets were blocked and a helicopter from the Department of Public Safety hovered over the area while a heavily armed SWAT team went into the buildings and removed people.

One home's surveillance camera caught this image of a stranger in the backyard.

A Maricopa man has been arrested after accusations he broke into a Maricopa Meadows home while naked and reportedly on spice.

 

Al-Hakiem S. Towns, 38, was taken into custody by Maricopa Police officers on Sept. 18.

 

Towns allegedly entered the home of David James through a back patio door, possible a dog door, at 2:50 a.m. James was woken by his dogs and grabbed his gun, but the suspect exited the house through a front window, breaking the screen, according to the police report.

 

The homeowner’s surveillance camera captured an image of the man walking away, completely naked with a large tattoo on his back.

 

James called police, but he wasn’t the first. Another resident in the neighborhood had called police earlier when his 12-year-old daughter reported seeing a man standing in the backyard looking in through the glass door. He then ran off. He was described a black male wearing only green shorts.

 

The responding officers found clothing in the rear yard of a residence on Ranch Road along with a bottle of canola oil and a cell phone. When they powered up the phone, a picture of Towns was on the screen.

 

Police officers went to six homes, reporting all had a blood trail leading through the back yards. Residents had come outside to see what the noise was in their yards.

 

Police found Towns allegedly completely nude, standing front of a home on Meadows Lane and bleeding from his feet and legs.

 

Arresting officers reported Towns made the statement, “Every time I smoke spice this happens.”

 

“Spice” is synthetic cannabis. It is illegal in Arizona.

 

He faces charges of third-degree burglary, criminal trespass, criminal damage, disorderly conduct and voyeurism. He was transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center.

A mailbox in Sorrento hangs open after being damaged with a pry tool. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Mailboxes in the Sorrento community suffered criminal damage and burglary during Labor Day weekend.

Postmaster Sharon Kiszczak said several boxes were hit. Outgoing mail slots appeared to have been pried open by a crowbar or similar tool, which also allowed access to all of the individual boxes within each unit.

Seven-box units were reported damaged in four areas in the community. There is no information available regarding missing or stolen mail.

The Maricopa Police Department estimates the crime occurred between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday.

Kiszczak said police were called, and police notified postal inspectors, who are investigating.

Andrique Holley

A Maricopa man already indicted on three counts of assault earlier this year now faces a charge of sexual assault stemming from a July 1 incident.

Andrique Holley, 36, has a preliminary hearing on the new charges scheduled for Friday in front of Pinal County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Wharton.

He is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old while she slept. Maricopa Police Department was called to the location around 4:40 p.m. The alleged victim was taken to the Mesa Police Department’s Family Advocacy Center while Maricopa Police officers searched for Holley.

At around 9:23, MPD found Holley hiding in a culvert under a nearby road. After he allegedly refused to comply with officers’ demands to come out of the culvert, MPD used the police K9 to remove him.

According to the police report, Holley had allegedly ingested four bottles of prescription drugs and a large amount of bleach before being found. He was transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center for dog bites and mental evaluation.

Hospital staff released Holley to MPD on July 6, and he was processed in Maricopa. According to the police report, he admitted to the assault. He said he left the home when confronted by the victim’s mother. He told police he took drugs and drank bleach to commit suicide.

He is being held in Pinal County Jail without bail on the sexual assault accusation.

He is also charged with probation violation, with a $1,000 bond.

Holley’s Maricopa troubles started Feb. 1 when he was arrested after a public fracas during which Holley was allegedly intoxicated and dragged a teenage girl to the ground in Glennwilde. That escalated into a fight with bystanders and his indictment on three felony charges and two misdemeanor charges.

A grand jury on Feb. 22 charged Holley with assault for injuring the girl, a Class 1 misdemeanor. He was charged with assault for touching and trying to injure another female, a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Because Holley allegedly punched a man trying to help the teen, “causing … severe laceration to his lip,” he was charged with aggravated assault, a Class 4 felony.

The grand jury also indicted Holley on a charge of resisting arrest and attempted aggravated assault on Officer Daniel Rauch, both Class 6 felonies.

Holley also had a 2014 conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Maricopa County.

Daniel Moore (PCSO photo)

By Ethan McSweeney

Maricopa police arrested a man early Sunday for allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend with an unloaded gun and trying to force her into his car before she stabbed him with her car key and fled.

Daniel Moore, 21, confronted his ex-girlfriend in the Fry’s parking lot off State Route 347 around 11 p.m. Saturday, according to a Maricopa Police Department report. Moore attempted to talk to the woman, but she refused to talk, the report read.

At that point, Moore pulled out an unloaded .45 caliber pistol from his right cargo pocket, which he said was meant “to scare her,” according to the report. The gun belonged to Moore’s father, MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said.

The woman attempted to get away, but Moore grabbed her in chokehold fashion, the report read. The woman told police she wasn’t able to breathe and was left with a red mark around the front of her neck.

When Moore tried to pull the woman into the car to take her with him, the woman stabbed him with her car key and fled inside the Fry’s store, according to the report.

Five MPD officers responded to Moore’s residence on West Julie Lane south of Maricopa shortly after midnight, police said.

After being interviewed by police, Moore allegedly admitted to the incident taking place. He also admitted to hiding the gun inside his residence “because he knew he would be in trouble,” the report read.

Moore was charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, another count of aggravated assault for strangulation, one count of threatening and intimidating, one count of misconduct involving weapons, one count of disorderly conduct for recklessly displaying a weapon and one count of tampering with evidence, according to the report.

All the charges fall under domestic violence, which adds an aggravating factor to the alleged crimes, Alvarado said.

Moore was booked into Pinal County Jail and is being held on a $20,000 bond. He is due in court for a preliminary hearing Friday.

By Ethan McSweeney

A Maricopa woman was arrested on charges of shoplifting at Wal-Mart on July 3 after trying to take food items and hide them in store bags, according to Maricopa police.

Johanna Norris, 29, brought Wal-Mart bags into the store around 1:45 p.m. and used them to conceal the items she was taking, according to a police report. Wal-Mart’s Asset Protection team caught the incident on video and detained her, the report read.

The Maricopa Police Department arrested Norris around 2:48 p.m. and charged her with one count of shoplifting and another count of using the Wal-Mart bags as an artifice to hide the items she was trying to take, according to the report.

Norris was transported and booked into the Adult Detention Facility in Florence.

Misael Gonzalez Gonzalez

A man in Stanfield is accused of running a crime syndicate by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Misael Gonzalez Gonzalez, 44, was arrested Monday in Stanfield. Pending charges are production of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of marijuana for use and managing and financing a criminal syndicate.

The secured bond is $10,000. His preliminary hearing is set for May 17.