A Maricopa man accused of murdering two neighbors entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment Friday.
Jose Ignacio Valenzuela Jr. will have a pretrial hearing Aug. 24 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Kevin White in Pinal County Superior Court. He continues to be represented by Public Defender James Mannato.
Valenzuela, 38, was arraigned in front of Judge Dwight Callahan on two charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Michael and Tina Careccia.
Their bodies were found in a six-foot grave next to the house where he was living on Papago Road. The home is owned by Valenzuela’s parents and in the Thunderbird Farms subdivision in the unincorporated area southwest of Maricopa.
The Careccias were acquaintances of Valenzuela and lived two streets south on Mayer Boulevard. The investigation by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office indicated Valenzuela had been with the Careccias at their Father’s Day family gathering June 21. That was the last night they were seen alive.
According to the report, the Careccias went to Valenzuela’s house sometime that night. Valenzuela claimed to detectives they came by to get methamphetamine.
PCSO is accusing Valenzuela of shooting both of the Careccias to death with a .22 Magnum revolver.
They were reported missing the next evening, June 22, by family members, and PCSO and volunteers conducted extensive searches of the area for more than a week. Valenzuela was taken into custody as a “person of interest” the afternoon of July 1. That night, PCSO uncovered the bodies.
Valenzuela remains behind bars in the PCSO Adult Detention Center on a $2 million bond.
The Careccias were married last May and together had five children.