Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles announced today his office would seek the death penalty against Jose Valenzuela, who is accused of murdering Mike and Tina Careccia last year.
The Careccias went missing June 21 after a Father’s Day party at their home. Their bodies were found July 2 in a makeshift grave next to Valenzuela’s home on Papago Road. They were both shot to death.
Voyles said he was seeking the death penalty because of the personal nature of the crime and because it was “especially heinous.”
The notice to seek the death penalty was filed Friday.
“I want to make sure the victims know our deepest condolences go to you,” Voyles said. “There is nothing we can say to bring the lives back of these two individuals, but our goal now is to seek justice.”
Among aggravating factors used in the filing were Valenzuela’s previous homicide convictions that could have led to sentences of life in prison or the death penalty and the “heinous, cruel or depraved manner” of the death of Tina Careccia.
“Justice must be served,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “Our hearts go out to the surviving victims and to the community. They didn’t deserve this, and we’re going to stand for justice in this case.”
He said Valenzuela confessed over the phone, threatened to kill himself and had a standoff with deputies before his arrest July 1.
No charges have been filed against Felix Rios Nunez, who was in the Valenzuela home at the time of the incident. He is being treated as a witness because he had been threatened with death if he told anyone what happened, Babeu said.
Valenzuela, 36, has been in the Pinal County jail on a $2 million bond since his arrest. He is represented by the Pinal County Office of the Public Defender. His next court date is Jan. 25 in front of Superior Court Judge Kevin White.