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murder

LaShawn Johnson is accused of murdering Angela Russo two years ago.

The Phoenix man accused of murdering a Maricopa woman two years ago is set to go to trial.

Angela Russo, 24, went missing April 19, 2016, after going on a date. More than a month later, her remains were found buried in Tonopah.

LaShawn Johnson, now 28, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, auto theft, arson and concealing a body. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

The two apparently met on a dating website. The case received worldwide attention two years ago during the five-week search for Russo.

Johnson’s roommate allegedly provided investigators information that led them to Russo’s remains. Also found was her burned car.

Jury selection is scheduled to being Wednesday in Judge David O. Cunanan courtroom. The trial itself is set to last through Aug. 14.

Russo’s mother Diana Schalow and family continue to operate an Angela Alert on Facebook to help find missing people.

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

The trial date for a Maricopa double-murder case, which has been hanging in limbo for more than three years was set Monday.

The trial for Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, 40, the alleged killer of Michael and Tina Carreccia, is set to begin April 24, 2019.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The case, which was initially filed in 2015, has seen numerous delays as a result of changes to both defense and prosecution teams.

Recently, lead defense attorney James Mannato, who had been working the case since its initial filing, decided to retire.

A new defense attorney, Bobbi Faldutto, was brought in to replace Mannato.

Falduto immediately requested more time to get familiar with the case, asking for a trial date no sooner than September 2019.

Special prosecutor Gary Husk, who himself was brought in the fold late,  contested the defense’s request, calling it “completely unreasonable.”

Husk, a prosecutor from Navajo County, was assigned to the case after attorney Kent Volkmer was elected as the Pinal County attorney in 2016 and was forced to recuse himself due to previous ties to the case.

Presiding Judge Kevin White is also set to begin a new judicial assignment toward the end of the year. However, he said, given he had been involved in the case for so long it is likely he will see the case through trial.

At Monday’s hearing, Falduto suggested the defense would need six to eight weeks to make arguments. Husk, on the other hand, believes the prosecution can make its case in as few as four weeks.

Valenzuela, who was not present for the hearing, stands accused of shooting and then burying the Carrecias next to his home in Thunderbird Farms the night of June 21, 2015, Father’s Day.

A status hearing for the trial was set for Sept. 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Pinal County Court House in Florence.

Miguel Figueroa. PCSO photo

After pleading guilty to stabbing his wife to death, Miguel Figueroa, 47, of Maricopa was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of “earning” parole after 25 years.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White called Figueora’s actions in 2016 a “horrific offense” and said the harm done was “palpable in the courtroom.”

A family member of Olivia Figueroa made an emotional plea to the judge asking him to sentence her cousin’s killer to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We all miss her. I’ll never ever forgive him. Nobody will,” she said.

Deputy County Attorney Kristen Sharifi said Olivia Figueroa suffered around 35 stab wounds, with the weapon penetrating her skull and her heart.

“There was massive destruction to this woman’s body,” Sharifi said.

Figueroa told White he was sorry for what he had done and was willing to pay the price. “Lord have mercy on my soul,” he said.

But Figueroa’s life sentence does not begin until after he has served time for attempted aggravated assault on his son and for a parole violation. White sentenced Figueroa to six years for the assault and 2.5 for the parole violation, to be served consecutively. He is credited with 554 days already served behind bars.

A mitigating factor for the judge was the fact that Figueroa pleaded guilty and took responsibility for the crime, sparing his children a trial.

Figueroa’s two adult children’s absence during sentencing Monday afternoon was much discussed by prosecution and the defense.

“At this point they don’t ever want to speak to him again,” Sharifi said.

The events leading up to the Dec. 10 murder of Olivia Figueroa in 2016 were detailed by defense attorney Mark Benson.

Olivia and her son were living separately from Miguel in a family member’s home.

After a family shopping trip concluded in Phoenix, Miguel allegedly became angry with Olivia when she reportedly refused to return with Miguel to his home.

The son, also a witness, allegedly told prosecution this “infuriated” his father, Sharifi said.

The Maricopa Police Department soon began receiving emergency calls from residents in a neighborhood hearing a woman being beaten in a truck.

Olivia was later found stabbed to death in a desert area of the Heritage District.

“This was a man who was married to this woman for over 20 years. He should’ve been her protector. He should’ve taken care of her. He had a chance while he was on probation to turn his life around to receive the help to better his life, to better Olivia’s life, but instead he let his anger overcome him and he took her out of this world,” Sharifi said.

Benson said had the case gone to trial, he would have likely used a “crime of passion” defense.

A report from a clinical psychologist in February of this year did not include reports of anger management issues. However, the report stated Figueroa said he’s suffered from depression all his life and has “always entertained thoughts of suicide” since a young age.

The report also stated Figueroa had a history of experiencing auditory hallucinations and narcotic drug use.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Monday, Pinal County Judge Christopher O’Neil set the trial date for one of the teens accused of murdering 20-year-old Wyatt Miller nearly two years ago.

Arthur Eric Magana will stand trial Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Kevin White and a 12-person jury.

The November trial was tentatively scheduled in April when White officially set the trial for co-defendant Gustavo Olivo.

John Schaus, attorney for Olivo, previously expressed a desire to settle his client’s case without a trial. However, Olivo’s trial begins two weeks before Magana’s on Oct. 30.

O’Neil, who was covering White’s docket temporarily Monday afternoon, affirmed the October trial date. O’Neil said the two trials will remain under White and will not be subjected to reassignment. Both trials are estimated to last six days each.

The teens are accused of first degree murder and burglary in the shooting death of Miller on Nov. 7, 2016, in an unincorporated area of Maricopa.

Magana and Olivo will return to court for status review hearings in July.

Shawn Main. PCSO photo

 

The homicide case involving a Maricopa woman might not see trial until after the third anniversary of the victim’s death.

Shawn Main, 48, was scheduled to stand trial in July in the first-degree murder and child abuse of 3-year-old Tiana Capps.

The toddler died of blunt force trauma at Banner Casa Grande Regional Medical Center after Main, the child’s caretaker, called for emergency help on Ralston Road southwest of Maricopa in December 2015.

In April, the defense team successfully pushed the trial to January.

Co-attorneys Chester Lockwood and Cody Weagant argued they needed additional time to prepare the defense, blaming much of it on their client’s alleged medical conditions.

Main’s health issues include “probable and suspected” heart problems, diabetes, chronic swelling and poor circulation of the feet, a goiter and a growth on her chest area, according to a court document filed in April.

The defense team said Main needs a primary care physician and a complete medical evaluation before an eventual thyroid surgery ahead of trial. Lockwood and Weagant wrote in their motion to court that neither they nor their client had a timeline for when those would occur.

Instead of preparing for her summer trial, Main and her attorneys are now hoping to dig through evidence they motioned for access to in May.

The defense is asking the court to release electronic devices seized by the state, including those belonging to Main’s co-defendants: her ex-wife Maria Tiglao and the victim’s biological mother Tina Morse.

“It is believed the seized devices contain exculpatory evidence and the state has possessed the same for nearly three years,” court documents state.

Main is also motioning the court for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) records for the victim and her three siblings who lived with Main and the other two women in a home in unincorporated Maricopa.

Court documents state the Casa Grande WIC office weighed and measured the children during each visit.

A medical examiner testified earlier this year that Tiana Capps was undernourished.

Counsel for the victims has until early June to file a response to those motions.

Main will be in court for a hearing July 16 at 3 p.m.


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Miguel Figueroa. PCSO photo

The man accused of killing his wife with a sword in 2016 will face 25 years to life in prison after admitting guilt in court Monday.

Miguel Figueroa pleaded guilty May 21 to the first-degree murder of Olivia Figueroa near the Heritage District in Maricopa.

As part of the plea deal, a kidnapping charge was dropped.

Figueroa also admitted guilt in the attempted aggravated assault of his son with a .22 caliber gun in the same incident. He agreed to serve six years in the Department of Corrections as part of the plea on that charge.

Pinal County Judge Kevin White said Figueroa’s admittance to the two counts resulted in an automatic violation of his probation, stemming from two drug paraphernalia possession convictions in 2015.

The disposition on the probation violation will be heard during sentencing June 18 at 1:30 p.m.

However, sentencing may be delayed by the defense counsel in a future motion which would ask to continue the court date in lieu of hiring an expert to identify the mitigating and aggravating factors in the probation case.

Figueroa’s plea comes nearly two months before his trial date in July. White vacated the trial Monday.


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Marcos Martinez is accused of the brutal murder of Vicky Ten Hoven. (photos PCSO/Facebook)

The man accused of killing his grandmother earlier this year will undergo a mental examination to determine his competency to stand trial.

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Dwight Callahan ordered Marcos Jerell Martinez to a “full Rule 11 examination” in court Wednesday morning.

Martinez, with a full beard and long hair, appeared in a brown jumpsuit for his hearing May 2, but his cooperation with counsel has apparently been an issue.

Callahan recently approved a motion by the defense team to visit with their client at the door of his jail cell after concerns were filed that Martinez repeatedly “denies or refuses” to meet with attorneys, according to court documents filed in April.

The first-degree murder suspect submitted to a rule 11 pre-screening in March where a doctor recommended a full examination.

The state and the public defender’s office both nominated psychologists to fulfill the order.

Those results are expected to be reviewed in court June 27 at 9 a.m.

After the mental examination review hearing this summer, attorneys for Martinez are expected to file a motion to remand the case to a second grand jury for a new probable cause determination.

A grand jury indicted Martinez in February of premediated first-degree murder, punishable by death or life in prison, after the Maricopa Police Department forwarded additional charges of tampering with evidence and unlawful use of means of transportation in the same case. Martinez is held in the Pinal County Detention Center on a $1 million secured bond.

Martinez stands accused in the Jan. 28 blunt-force trauma death of Vicky Ten Hoven in Rancho El Dorado.


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

A capital murder case nearing its third anniversary remained without a scheduled trial date Monday in court.

Murder suspect Jose Valenzuela’s new lead defense attorney, Bobbi Falduto, argued her team would need until August 2019 to be prepared for trial.

Special Prosecutor Gary Husk said he was “troubled” by the requested 15-month continuance.

“That extraordinary delay is unwarranted,” he told Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White in court.

Husk said the belated trial is difficult for the family of Tina and Michael Careccia, the couple Valenzuela is accused of murdering and then burying in his yard in 2015, “and, I, quite frankly, can’t blame them,” Husk added.

Husk said prosecution could be ready for trial in six to eight months. However, White’s judicial schedule is clogged with three capital cases around that time.

White suggested trial take place in September of this year, when his docket opens, but Falduto maintained her team needed more time.

“Judge, I’m not going to avow that I can do that, I just know I can’t. It’s right around the corner,” Falduto said.

Falduto cited her recent appointment in the case as one reason for her request for additional time to prepare. In late January, she took over for James Mannato, the former public defender who retired early this year.

Additionally, Falduto revealed she would present a new defense theory in trial.

“Mr. Mannato had the case at a certain posture, and I actually disagreed with his posture, so we have revamped some of the case strategy,” Falduto said.

Monday, Valenzuela’s attorneys motioned the court for access to counseling records of their client’s son, who may have been an eyewitness in the case, Falduto said.

White ordered the records be subject to protective orders and non-disclosure to the public.

Michael and Tina Careccia lived with family members two streets away from the man charged with their murders. (Instagram)

Falduto has until June 8 to submit a memorandum objecting to the state’s request for disclosure of those records. Husk has until June 22 to file a response.

The defense team also argued it would need additional time to interview an out-of-state witness and a medical examiner.

“Our defense team has met about once a week to get me updated and to update everyone else. Everyone’s taken on certain tasks so we are working this as quickly as possible,” Falduto said. “There’s a lot of amount of discovery, and I think some of the experts that we have spoken with are going to be key to putting forth our defense.”

With a September trial not an option, White said his schedule could accommodate a trial date next July.

Nevertheless, the judge held off from affirming a specific date in court April 30. The case is subject to reassignment under a new judge as White takes on a different assignment in the courts July 1 this year.

White said he’s inclined to keep the case, but he will consult with the schedules of the criminal judge and presiding judge in the event the case is handed over.

Valenzuela’s next hearing in court will be June 25 at 3 p.m.


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Miguel Figueroa. PCSO photo

 

The first-degree murder trial for the man accused of killing his wife with a sword in 2016 was rescheduled Monday afternoon.

Miguel Figueroa would have stood trial next week, but “unfinished” DNA disclosure reports from the state prompted defense attorneys to request a new date.

The state did not object and indicated the results could be disclosed later this week.

Judge Kevin White scheduled the new trial for July 18 at 9 a.m. It’s expected to last seven days and be juried by 12 people.

The reports in question center on DNA from the defendant and his alleged victim, as well as nail clippings, evidence from the presumed murder weapon and “defensive wounds,” said Figueroa’s defense counsel, Scott Johnson.

White vacated next week’s trial to allow Johnson and co-council Mark Benson time to “digest” the information included in the DNA analysis ahead of trial.

The judge attempted to schedule the new trial before his upcoming judicial reassignment July 1. However, multiple, upcoming trials and conferences reported between the state and the defense prevented a sooner trial date.

The state alleges Figueroa stabbed to death his wife, Olivia, in a desert area near Maricopa’s Heritage District two years ago.

Figueroa will be in court again May 21 at 1:30 p.m. for a status review hearing.


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Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Two teens accused of murder appeared in court Monday nearly two weeks after their original trial date.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo were scheduled to go through trial as co-defendants April 10, but received separate trial dates in court April 23. The teens allegedly shot to death 20-year-old Wyatt Miller in 2016 in unincorporated Maricopa.

Olivo will stand trial for six days beginning Oct. 30. Magana’s trial, also planned for six days, is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13. Both trials would feature a 12-person jury.

John Schaus, attorney for Olivo, said he’s still hoping to settle the matter without trial by way of an offer from the state.

“If we settle this, I’ll let you know immediately,” Schauss told Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White.

White vacated the original trial last month because of other conflicting trial dates.

Olivo and Magana will return to court June 11 for a status review conference.


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Kathryn Sinkevitch will be tried for the murder of her former boyfriend. PCSO photo

Michael Agerter’s accused murderer will face a 12-person jury trial after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Michael Agerter

The four-week trial will begin Nov. 27 and is expected to end just four days before Christmas.

Pinal County Judge Kevin White vacated the original spring trial for defendant Kathryn Sinkevitch last month to accommodate defense attorney Bret Huggins’ slammed trial load.

White expressed concern in court April 9 that the new trial may run long and overlap into the busy Christmas week. He told Huggins and prosecutor Shawn Jensvold he may add Mondays to the trial schedule to prevent that situation.

If that decision is made, it’s unclear whether the inaugural day of trial would be moved to Nov. 26.

White also asked lawyers on both sides if a settlement conference had taken place. The goal of these sessions is to resolve the case without trial.

Huggins said one hadn’t occurred and later agreed with Jensvold’s comment that it likely “would not be fruitful.”

The day before the last week of trial begins will mark the second anniversary of Agerter’s murder. The victim was shot to death in the garage of his Rancho El Dorado home Dec. 16, 2016.

Monday’s successful trial date setting was not without a violation of courtroom etiquette.

A bailiff admonished a woman for waving and repeatedly calling the suspect’s name from the gallery as Sinkevitch walked shackled to a holding cell at the conclusion of the hearing.

Sinkevitch will return to White’s courtroom July 16 at 1:30 p.m. for a status review conference ahead of trial.

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

The attorney for the Maricopa man accused of using a sword to kill his wife in 2016 said Monday his client is ready for trial.

Miguel Figueroa will stand trial May 8 in front of Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White and a 12-person jury.

The state alleges Figueroa kidnapped and assaulted his son and wife, and then stabbed his wife Olivia to death in a desert field near Maricopa’s Heritage District in December 2016.

Defense attorney Mark Benson said the first-degree murder trial could last five to seven days.

Benson said his client had previously proposed to avoid trial by suggesting a lesser plea.

“Just for the record Mr. (Figueroa) did offer a plea to take class two murder and 25 years, but the state was not interested,” Benson said.

Figueroa also apparently underwent a psychological evaluation in recent months.

A report by Psychologist Carlos Vega in early February said Figueroa has a history with depression, suicidal thoughts, auditory hallucinations and substance use disorder, but “his cognitive and memory functioning are intact.”

Figueroa takes medication for depression, according to the report.

The report goes on to say “Miguel has a factual and rational understanding of the nature of the proceedings against him. He will be able to assist counsel in the preparation of his own defense and does not require further Rule 11 examination.”

March 12 was Figueroa’s first appearance since he reportedly refused to attend his court date last month.

In February, White had discussed possibly rescheduling Figueroa’s May trial date due to a full docket, but the judge affirmed the May date this week.

Figueroa’s next day in court will be April 30 at 2:30 p.m. for a status review hearing ahead of his trial.


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Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White vacated a trial date for teen co-defendants accused of first-degree murder and armed robbery Monday.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo appeared together, with their attorneys, March 12 after appearing separately last month.

The document prompting the trial’s postponement is a motion to sever the case submitted recently by James Soslowsky, Olivo’s defense attorney.

Prosecutor Patrick Johnson is expected to review the motion and file a response within days. If Johnson objects to the severance, an oral argument will be scheduled.

The teens allegedly shot to death 20-year-old Wyatt Miller in an unincorporated area of Maricopa in 2016. They pled not guilty to the murder charges.

Since then, they have appeared jointly in most court hearings. If their case is severed, separate trial dates would likely follow.

With their original trial date of April 10 tossed, White said a new trial date could be set for May – pending the severance issue and the possibility of a plea.

White ordered Magana, Olivo and their attorneys to meet with prosecution for a settlement conference, where plea deal negotiations could take place.

The conference is ordered to occur some time before the teens’ next court date on April 23 at 1:30 p.m.


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This story has been corrected to indicate the name of the victim.

Kathryn Sinkevitch will be tried for the murder of her former boyfriend. PCSO photo

 

The trial date has been vacated for the woman accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in his garage in 2016.

Kathryn Sinkevitch’s first-degree murder trial was set to begin May 8 but might not be heard until November.

Defense attorney Bret Huggins requested the trial be moved due to a capital case he is representing around the same time as Sinkevitch’s original trial date.

Judge Kevin White granted the motion after prosecutor Shawn Jensvold made no objection. Jensvold said a date in November is possible.

Sinkevitch, 34, of Tempe, was charged with the murder of 31-year-old Michael Agerter in December 2016. Agerter had a child with Sinkevitch and was reportedly seeking custody of the newborn.

Agerter’s family was present in court, the child in the care of others outside the courtroom.

Throughout the brief hearing, Sinkevitch frequently turned and smiled at those sitting in the gallery when cries of a child were heard echoing down the hall.

Jensvold told White Agerter’s family is requesting the release of his vehicle, which is still in police custody. Huggins said he does not anticipate objections on his part concerning the vehicle’s release.

The case is subject to cyclical reassignment of rotating judges this year, but White said he may “keep the case.”

Sinkevitch will appear in court April 9 at 1:30 p.m. when the trial date may be re-set.


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Shawn Main. PCSO photo

Testimony concluded Friday in the two-part Chronis hearing surrounding the blunt-force trauma death of 3-year-old Tiana Capps in 2015.

The defense team for Shawn Main, the woman charged with Tiana’s murder, called the special hearing months ago to require the state to establish probable cause in the death-penalty case.

Pinal County Sherriff’s Office Homicide Detective Michael Benedict testified March 2. The first portion of the hearing was held in January with testimony from a medical examiner.

A portion of Benedict’s testimony expanded on an allegation of a note allegedly written by Main the day after Tiana’s death. Prosecutors previously alleged the letter exonerated Main’s wife Maria Tiglao and the children’s biological mother, Tina Morse.

The three adults lived together with Morse’s four children in unincorporated Maricopa. Tiana was pronounced dead at Banner Casa Grande Medical Center Nov. 19.

Deputies allegedly discovered the note at Main’s residence Nov. 20 after they responded to a missing person’s call from Tiglao, according to court documents.

Written on lined paper, the note reads in part:

“To whom it may concern:
November 2015
I, Shawn Main, take full responsibility in the death of Tiana Capps. She would never have died if I sought medical attention the first night she was falling. Whether I thought it happened from her acting out on purpose or not, had I not let my pride get in the way, she would still be here alive. Neither Chris Tiglao nor Tina Morse had any knowledge of what was happening when Tiana was falling over and over. Nobody else had any contact with her so that leaves me responsible for her alleged sexual abuse as well. I am not worthy of keeping my life when she never had a chance to live hers.
Shawn Main”

After searching the property, Benedict said deputies found Main in a detached garage.

At that time, Benedict was in Tucson at Tiana’s autopsy.

“I received a text message from patrol while I was at the autopsy that Ms. Main had tried to take her own life,” Benedict said. “She was being transported to the hospital.”

Benedict further testified that photos taken of Main included “pretty substantial injuries to her forearms.”

Main eventually recovered from her injuries and was interviewed at her home Dec. 5.

In response to a counter by the Defense Attorney Chester Lockwood, Benedict testified Main had stayed consistent in her explanation of the bruising on Tiana’s forehead during all three police interviews prior to all three women’s arrest on Dec. 24.

Benedict said Main never evaded questioning by detectives.

Prosecutors have until March 12 to file a memorandum with the court regarding the Chronis hearing. The defense is expected to file a response a week later. The state can submit a rebuttal by March 23.

Possibly delaying the upcoming trial is Main’s “major surgery” that has yet to be successfully scheduled, Main’s defense said in court.

The four-week trial is set for July 31.

Main will appear in court for a pre-trial hearing April 2, pending a confirmed surgery date.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

The teens charged with the murder of 20-year-old Wyatt Miller appeared separately in court Monday in a hearing two months ahead of their trial date.

Co-defendants Gustavo Olivo and Arthur Magana are charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in the 2016 shooting death of Miller in an incident south of Maricopa.

Attorneys for the defendants are prepared for an April 10 trial, but that date could be pushed back due to the heavy trial case load for the judge assigned to the case.

Judge Kevin White said he has three capital cases going to trial around the same time, including Olivo’s and Magana’s trial.

Magana’s attorney, James Soslowsky, is currently in the middle of representing a separate murder trial. He said Magana’s case could still be ready for the April trial, pending what could be a major change to the case.

“There’s a couple of issues that I need to take a look at,” Soslowsky said. “One primary concern for the trial date is whether or not I’m going to be filing a motion to sever.”

That motion would create separate trials for the defendants. State law requires counsel to file the motion 20 days before trial.

Soslowsky requested the case return to White’s court room in two weeks, when the attorney said he would be better prepared to discuss a possible change in the trial date. John Schaus, Olivo’s attorney, later made the same request of the judge.

White scheduled a status review hearing for both defendants March 12 at 1:30 p.m. The judge said a possible alternate trial date could be May 1.

“That’s just a consideration and not something I’m pushing for,” White said.

Witness and evidence lists have been building in the case since September.

Prosecutors named three Department of Public Safety forensic scientists and an officer as witnesses five months ago. Document evidence submissions included law enforcement reports, DNA examination report, latent print examination report, controlled substance examination report and a serology examination report.

In January, forensic scientist Aaron Brudenell was added as a witness expected to testify as a firearms expert. Brudenell’s firearms examination report and another report by a detective on the case were also submitted as evidence.

An investigator joined Shaus in Olivo’s case “to assist in preparation of this case” in December.

White approved Goodyear-based DiCarlo Associates LLC, a private investigation company that “has done over 250 criminal defense cases…including approximately 15 capital murder cases” since 2004, according to court documents.

Schaus has requested reimbursement of reasonable expense incurred through the firm’s hiring which costs $45 per hour.

Miguel Figueroa. PCSO photo

The man accused of killing his wife, Olivia Figueroa, with a sword in 2016 was absent for his court date Monday morning.

Representing Miguel Figueroa during the status review hearing in Pinal County Superior Court was public defender Mark Benson.

“Your honor, on the next matter, I do not have a client here,” Benson told Judge Kevin White Feb. 26.

Figueroa has been in custody inside Pinal County Jail since his arrest in 2016. When White prompted the attorney for explanation on his client’s absence, Benson said it was not due to illness or other similar circumstance.

Benson said he was told by law enforcement that Figueroa did not wish to appear in court.

“According to them, the sheriffs, (Figueroa) said, ‘I have trial in May. I’ll show up then,” Benson told White

However, the judge’s upcoming docket is slammed with upcoming trial dates near the time of Figueroa’s. Benson and prosecutor Kristen Sharifi agreed Monday to meet March 12 to discuss “revisiting” Figueroa’s trial with his client present in court.

Attorney and prosecutor had also met with White in his chambers prior to the hearing to discuss the matter.

“Based upon our conversation in chambers, I will speak to Miguel,” Benson said. “I will get him (here) in two weeks so we can discuss the trial setting,” Benson said.

In January, court documents reveal Figueroa’s attorneys, Benson and Scott Johnson, motioned for a Rule 11 psychological evaluation for their client that was later granted.

Benson said he recently submitted the evaluation to the court. White said Monday morning he has since reviewed the report. The results of the evaluation have not been made available to the public.

A grand jury re-indicted Figueroa Dec. 20 on the same four charges from 2016: first-degree murder, kidnapping and two counts of aggravated assault.

He pled not guilty to all counts nine days later.

Figueroa is scheduled to appear in court ahead of his trial for a status review hearing March 12 at 1:30 p.m.



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Told not to have any contact with victim's family

Marcos Martinez (PCSO photo)

The man the state says is responsible for the blunt-force trauma death and stabbing of his grandmother pled not guilty to one count of first-degree murder Friday.

Marcos Jerell Martinez entered a Pinal County Superior Court room Feb. 16 for his arraignment in front of Judge Lawrence Wharton.

Representing Martinez is Public Defender Paula Cook, although Martinez indicated the duration of her representation could be brief because he might be able to afford his own attorney in the future.

After the defendant’s plea, Wharton ordered Martinez to have “absolutely no contact” with family of Vicky Ten Hoven, his grandmother.

Shackled and dressed in a navy-blue jumpsuit, Martinez told the judge he had a question.

“No contact with the family of Vicky Ten Hoven?” he asked Wharton.

“That’s correct,” the judge said.

The Maricopa Police Department originally forwarded charges of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and unlawful use of means of transportation soon after the Jan. 28 alleged homicide in Maricopa.

But a grand jury formally indicted Martinez on a single count of first-degree murder Feb. 7, alleging the suspect caused the death of Ten Hoven “with premeditation, intending or knowing that his (…) conduct would cause that death,” according to the indictment document.

First-degree murder is a class one felony and is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to state law.

Martinez has been in custody since his arrest in Chandler on Jan. 30 where he was eventually extradited to Pinal County Jail. He remains in custody on a $1 million bond.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for April 3 at 9 a.m. at the Pinal County Superior Courthouse.


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Marcos Martinez is accused of the brutal murder of Vicky Ten Hoven. (photos PCSO/Facebook)

Eight months before Vicky Ten Hoven was killed  in her Maricopa home, police reports state the grandson accused of her murder had been “involuntarily committed.”

May 22, 2017, a Chandler Police officer was dispatched on a “mental health pickup order” to retrieve Marcos Jerell Martinez from his hospital room inside Chandler Regional Medical Center, according to a report from the Chandler Police Department. The report did not indicate the reason behind Martinez’s admittance to the hospital.

After placing Martinez in handcuffs, the officer transported him to a behavioral health and substance abuse treatment facility in Mesa.

CPD spokesman Seth Tyler said the mental health pickup order was signed by a judge and approved by a supervisor. He said individuals are typically “mandated” to stay 72 hours at the facility but are often released before then.

Details as to the cause of Martinez’s alleged committal and its duration were not included in the report.

Martinez, 23, was said to have lived with his grandparents in Maricopa on occasion and also stayed at two homes in the Valley where his parents are said to live separately, according to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

His contact with law enforcement appeared to be non-violent prior to late January when he became the person of interest in his grandmother’s death.

Sixty-two-year-old Vicky Ten Hoven was discovered by her husband in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor on the evening of Jan. 28. Her vehicle was also missing from the home.

The Maricopa Fire/Medical Department pronounced Ten Hoven dead 15 minutes after receiving the emergency call. An autopsy conducted by a Pinal County medical examiner one day after Ten Hoven’s death revealed a brutal homicide.

Court records say the ME located five stab wounds to Ten Hoven’s head, describing wounds to her face and neck. Blunt force trauma was determined as the cause of death.

Ten Hoven also sustained numerous defensive wounds consistent with fighting back, and the ME advised officers the victim’s attacker should have scratch marks or lacerations, according to the report.

MPD detectives found blood spatter throughout the home the night of the alleged murder as well as numerous bloody knives with broken blades and handles.

The report also alleges evidence was present at the scene to support a charge of attempting to destroy evidence. A mop had been used to clean areas of the residence and a discolored comforter was discovered inside a washing machine that emitted “a strong odor of bleach.”

Despite the alleged attempt to conceal the crime, the report says detectives located a blood trail that led from the kitchen to a bedroom identified as belonging to Martinez.

MPD described the victim’s grandson as a person of interest in the case and obtained a warrant to monitor the “pings” from his cellular phone in an attempt to locate him.

Officers arrested Martinez just after midnight Jan. 30 inside his grandmother’s missing vehicle. He was parked in an industrial area near 2290 Yeager Drive in Chandler and was found after authorities were alerted to his phone’s ping from a nearby cell tower.

Officers reported observing blood inside the vehicle “in plain view.”

Authorities also noted injuries to Martinez including a freshly stitched index finger, lacerations to his left hand’s fingers, palm and thumb, and an apparent injury to his hip.

As police detained Martinez, he allegedly told an officer, “There is evidence on my phone,” according to the report.

The report also says stains consisted with the appearance of blood were found on Martinez’s shirt and shorts. Ten Hoven’s vehicle and Martinez’s clothing were impounded as evidence.

MPD is forwarding charges of second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and unlawful use of means of transportation.

Martinez is being held on a $1 million bond in Pinal County Jail. There has been no grand jury indictment.



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

The lead public defender in a high-profile Maricopa double-murder case has retired, possibly postponing the already belated trial for as long as another year and a half. 

James Mannato, former lead attorney for Jose Valenzuela, announced in court Wednesday he has officially retired from the public defender’s office and is seeking a replacement who could need considerable time to familiarize themselves with the case. 

Mannato filed a request Jan. 18 for a specific attorney, Bobbi Falduto, to replace him in the case. Given the complexities of taking over a capital case, Falduto said, the soonest she could imagine a trial to start would be “a year or year and a half.”

Falduto came highly recommended by the Public Defender’s Office in Maricopa County, having served the office from 2000 to 2017, Mannato said. 

Additionally, “she has the qualifications and temperament to do this kind of job.”

During her tenure with Maricopa County, Falduto was part of the defense team in a landmark Arizona case known as Chronis v. Steinle. The decision reached in the case established what is known as the Chronis Rule, which guarantees the right of a defendant in a capital murder case to “request a determination of probable cause as to alleged aggravating circumstances.”

Falduto’s appointment, though summarily approved by Judge Kevin White, is not yet official, thus she declined to comment on the case.

Special prosecutor Gary Husk, also brought into the case after proceedings had begun, said a year and a half would be “abnormal.”

“I was very much in the same situation when the conflict occurred,” Husk said. “And, it took me about six months to get ready.”

The conflict Husk refers to occurred in 2016 when Kent Volkmer was elected Pinal County Attorney. At the time of his election, Volkmer was attached to the case as a special guardian, thus creating a conflict of interest for PCAO. 

Additionally, Husk said, “the victims’ families are very concerned about a one-and-a-half year delay on top of what’s already occurred.” 

If the trial date is pushed back another year and a half, that would mean nearly four years had lapsed between the time of the alleged murders and the trail start date. 

Increasing the likelihood of any extensive postponement, Judge White is leaving his criminal assignment in March.

This means another judge would be stepping in and likely needing time to familiarize themselves with the case before trial began. 

Valenzuela stands accused of murdering husband and wife Michael and Tina Careccia in June 2015 and then burying their bodies next to his home in Thunderbird Farms, an unincorporated community just south of Maricopa. 

He faces two counts first-degree murder, both punishable by death. 

Case Timeline

 

Marcos Martinez (PCSO photo)

In recent months, a man accused of murder and his younger brother have had brushes with the law in Arizona.

A memorial fund has been set up for Vicky Ten Hoven at gf.me/u/gh62d5 to help with funeral expenses.

Marcos Jerrell Martinez, 23, is accused of killing his grandmother, Vicky Ten Hoven, Sunday evening. According to Maricopa Police Department, Martinez and his brother Dorin, 22, occasionally lived with their grandparents in Rancho El Dorado.

Jan. 25, police responded to the home on a report that Dorin Martinez had assaulted his grandfather after a dispute over the television. The TV controls had been “locked down,” and the grandfather told Dorin to unlock the controls and to respect his belongings.

According to the police report, Dorin pushed his grandfather (also described as his step-grandfather), who fell on the floor, and then punched his grandfather in the head “causing a laceration” to his scalp.

MPD described Dorin as special needs and the grandfather as “pre-Alzheimer’s,” and Dorin was cited but not taken into custody.

Since May, Marcos Martinez has had four cases in Maricopa Municipal Court. Those charges involved drug use and possession, speeding, failure to stop at an accident and failure to appear. None of those cases involved physical violence.

Marcos was arrested in Chandler early Tuesday morning on charges of second-degree murder (a class 1 felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison), unlawful possession of a vehicle (a class 5 felony punishable by up to 2.5 years) and tampering with evidence (a class 6 felony punishable by up to 2 years).

 

Marcos Martinez was arrested early Tuesday morning after his grandmother, Vicky Ten Hoven, was killed in her home Sunday. (Photos MPD/Facebook)

The grandson of a woman killed in Maricopa has been arrested in Chandler.

Vicky Ten Hoven, 62, was found deceased on her kitchen floor on Sunday around 7:40 p.m. by her husband, and a vehicle was missing. Maricopa Police Department announced they were seeking Marcos J. Martinez, 23, as a person of interest in the case.

Ten Hoven had been a Realtor with HomeSmart Success since May 2017.

Martinez’s arrest was announced Tuesday morning at a press conference by MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado. He said Martinez was found in an industrial area in Chandler at 1 a.m. in the missing vehicle. The arrest of Martinez was without incident, he said.

Martinez was further identified as a grandson of Ten Hoven, one of two grandchildren occasionally living in the house on Bunker Drive in Rancho El Dorado. Martinez also had a home in Gilbert, according to MPD.

Alvarado said police did not believe the crime was random because there was no forced entry to the house or other noticeable disturbance. 

“We did find biological evidence, physical evidence in the vehicle that linked him to the crime scene and to the death of Ms. Ten Hoven,” Alvarado said.

Martinez has been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a stolen vehicle. He was booked into Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Fourth Avenue  Jail awaiting extradition to Pinal County.

MPD did not release information on the direct cause of death or likely weapon.


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Shawn Main. PCSO photo

 

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy of 3-year-old Tiana Capps, whom the state alleges was abused then killed by her caretaker near Maricopa, testified in court Thursday.

Jennifer Chen with the Pima County Office of Medical Examiner said her examination on Nov. 20, 2015, revealed the child suffered at least 12 “impacts sites” to her face and head caused from a blunt force object.

The trauma caused abrasions, contusions, two hemorrhages on the brain and eventually death. Chen listed the toddler’s death as a homicide.

Chen’s autopsy report also found Tiana was “undernourished,” weighed 24 pounds at the time of her death, and had poor dental health and a severe diaper rash.

Prosecutors say Shawn Main is responsible. She’s facing a first-degree murder charge and the death penalty along with multiple counts of child abuse. Thursday’s testimony was part of a Chronis hearing, required in Arizona to establish probable cause in death-penalty cases.

Main allegedly told police in 2015 she was Tiana’s sole caretaker at a home they shared with two other women and Tiana’s three siblings in an unincorporated area of Maricopa. One of the other women was the children’s biological mother, Tina Morse.

The state claims aggravating factors in the case include the girl’s young age and the “especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner” of the crime.

Main’s defense counsel asked Chen whether Tiana could have been asleep or unconscious during the impacts, and if it was possible the toddler could have felt no pain if the latter were true.

Chen said pain levels are subjective, but the child would have had to suffer at least one impact before losing consciousness.

“Generally, head trauma causes pain,” Chen said.

During questioning from both sides, Chen testified she could not determine whether the trauma was caused by a blunt object striking the child’s head or if her head repeatedly hit a blunt object.

Main allegedly made statements to police explaining Tiana had been “falling a lot” before her death and had become “defiant and oppositional,” prosecutor Shawn Jensvold said in court.

“(The child’s) injuries were not consistent with a simple fall,” Chen said.

The defense pointed out during questioning that the autopsy report did not list any defensive wounds on the child’s hands and forearms.

In response to prosecution, Chen said Tiana would “likely not” be able to defend herself against an adult because of her age and that an undernourished body causes “a person to feel weaker, tired, with less energy.”

Chen’s testimony also included questions from prosecution about a note allegedly authored by Main after the autopsy report.

In it, Jensvold said Main allegedly “exonerated the other two adults that were in the house.”

Testimony from the detective on the case is expected to reveal more about the note and other details when the hearing continues March 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Pinal County Superior Court.


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Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Two teenagers accused of shooting 20-year-old Wyatt Miller to death in the seat of his truck last November appeared again in court Monday morning.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo, both charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery, are preparing for an April trial. Judge Kevin White heard from the teens’ attorneys on the possibility of a settlement conference.

“We were advised by email by the County Attorney’s Office that they had staffed the case and that no plea offer would be coming,” said James Soslowsky, Magana’s attorney.

Attorney John Schaus, representing Olivo, told White his client might be open to resolving the case, “but there isn’t an offer (from the state) right now.”

White asked the state to clarify whether it would make an offer – or accept offers from the defendants – by the next court date on Dec. 11. White also addressed apparent problems behind the scenes between Olivo and Schaus.

In September, Olivo motioned the court for “substitution of attorney on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.”

During that hearing, White delayed the motion and encouraged Schaus to have “meaningful communication” with his client before the next court date. Olivo told White Monday morning he was withdrawing his motion to excuse his attorney.

“At this point, we are working with the client,” Schauss said.

Moving forward, White is expected to see motions from both attorneys come across his desk in the coming days.

Schauss said he filed a motion Friday regarding the cost of heavy administrative duties his office is tasked with to prepare for trial. In the motion, Schauss said he is asking permission from the court to print black-and-white photocopies of discovery, including photographs and Facebook communications.

“It’s just too much of a task on my copy machine at the office, so I have to go to Kinko’s or Staples to do that,” Shauss said.

Soslowsky said he will also file a motion “regarding my client’s statements to law enforcement.”

White told the defense he would prefer to see those matters addressed in court at least 60 days prior to trial.

The next hearing for Olivo and Magana will be Dec. 11 at 9 a.m.

Jose Valenzuela was in Superior Court Monday for a pretrial hearing on murder charges in the deaths of Michael and Tina Careccia.

The trial for one of Maricopa’s most high-profile murder cases is on track, according to lawyers on both sides.

The trial date for accused double-murderer Jose Ignacio Valenzuela is set for Jan. 23 and is on schedule. Valenzuela is charged with the two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Tina and Michael Careccia.

Prosecutor Gary Husk and defense attorney James Mannato appeared along with Valenzuela in a Pinal County court room Monday as part of a status hearing. Both sides agreed they were on course to make the January court date.

The next status hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. in Judge Kevin White’s courtroom at Pinal County Superior Court in Florence. Because of the notoriety of the case, it has become the trial around which all other upcoming murder trials are scheduled.

On the evening of June 21, 2015, both victims were shot in the head with a .22 caliber pistol, the bodies buried next to the Valenzuela house and discovered two weeks later.

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.

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.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

A trial date was affirmed in court Monday for two Maricopa teenagers accused of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the November shooting death of Wyatt Miller.

Gustavo Olivo and Arthur Eric Magana are set to stand trial before Judge Kevin White next year on April 10.

A status hearing for the accused will take place Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. at Pinal County Superior Court.

Attorney for Olivo, John Schaus requested in court Monday that a future settlement hearing be scheduled in the fall. That date has not yet been set.

Last November, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said Miller was found dead inside his truck of numerous gunshot wounds outside of a residence on Cardinal Road north of Interstate 8.

PCSO said deputies tracked Olivo and Magana to a residence on South Oak Road using two sets of footprints they said matched the patterns on the bottom of the suspects’ shoes.

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

The man accused of stabbing to death is wife, Olivia Cecelia Julian Figueroa, with a sword in December may not see a trial.

Attorney Paula Cook represented defendant Miguel Figueroa in court Monday for a hearing that was expected to produce a trial date and possible change of plea. However, Cook told Judge Kevin White she has “submitted a proposal to (the prosecutor) for her to consider to resolve this without a trial.”

Cook requested Monday’s hearing to be re-set to provide time for the prosecution to go over the proposal details.

Outside the courtroom, Cook said she would not comment on those details. Cook also represents Figueroa on a probation violation case.

If the murder case is set for trial, Cook told the judge it could begin in March of next year. The Pinal County Attorney’s Office announced earlier it would not be a death-penalty case.

Figueroa’s next hearing will take place at Pinal County Superior Court on July 17 at 9 a.m.

Figueroa was indicted by a grand jury in December on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

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.