Authors Articles byJim Headley

Jim Headley

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Local author debuts award-winning book

Police Chief Steve Stahl salutes during the Pearl Harbor Day flag-raising. Photo by Jim Headley

 

Friday morning, members of Maricopa Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 12043 remembered what happened 77 years ago.

At 8:06 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, the last bomb hit the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. Local veterans solemnly raised the American flag on cue at 8:06 Friday in memory of the anniversary at the new Veterans Plaza in front of the Maricopa Police Department offices.

In a prayer opening the flag-raising, Mike Kemery, Arizona VFW state surgeon, said, “Let us honor the memory that the brave men who sacrificed so that we may experience freedom in a country that is free. Let us be reminded of life, liberty, justice, freedom and democracy – that we may forever be grateful to you and those veterans who gave so much for their country.”

VFW Post Commander Charles Kemp said, “On Dec. 7, 1941, the United States of America would be forever changed. It was a day of tragedy, sacrifice and heroism that united a nation. It was a day that will live in our hearts forever.”

Kemp noted more than 3,500 died or were wounded in the attack. A total of 21 ships were sunk or damaged and more than 340 aircraft were damaged or destroyed.

“We will never forget the events of that day… It was when America’s greatest generation was born,” Kemp said.

Maricopa VFW Senior Vice Commander Kirk Lane laid a ceremonial wreath at the base of the flagpole honoring those who died at Pearl Harbor.

At the flag-raising event, Maricopa author Linda Thompson debuted her new novel, “The Plum Blooms in Winter.” The book is a fictional account about several people involved in the American response to Pearl Harbor, the Doolittle Raid in 1942.

The book is fictional but based on the true stories of people who were involved in the event.

Thompson’s Genesis Award-winning WWII fiction novel was released on Dec. 1 from Mountain Brook Ink. Thompson’s appearance at Maricopa’s Pearl Harbor memorial service was the first public book signing event for the publication.

“My book is inspired by a true story from the Doolittle Raid of 1942. Very shortly after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt felt that we were just battered. He came to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and said, ‘I don’t care what it takes – you need to bomb Tokyo.’ We were thousands of miles from Tokyo,” she said.

Thompson said the Joint Chiefs of Staff put together a “wildly out-of-box solution” which came to be known as the Doolittle Raid. She said the Navy was able to bring 16 medium B-25 bombers within 500 miles of the Japanese coast on a carrier.

“It had never been done before and was never attempted again. The raid met its objective and they succeeded in bombing Tokyo. The bad news is not one of those planes found their landing strip. My story follows two of the crews who were captured by the Japanese. The came to be known as Doolittle’s Lost Crews,” she said.

Her novel follows their story through 40 months imprisonment by the Japanese and after the war.

“Somewhere in the middle of their journey, they were given a Bible. It made a tremendous difference to the men who survived. One of them was so moved by what he read in the Bible that he felt like the Lord was calling him to come back to Japan after the war as a missionary – to show them what forgiveness looked like.”

“The Plum Blooms in Winter” is now available through Amazon and your local bookstore. Her second book, “The Mulberry Leaf Whispers,” is expected to be released in late 2019.

Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves – stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, “The Plum Blooms in Winter,” is an American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis award winner.

Real estate agents and other residents participated in the quarterly meeting at City Hall. Photo by Jim Headley

Dale Wiebusch brought Maricopa leaders up to speed on what the 2018 election results might mean to their city.

Thursday morning Wiebusch, the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs director, hosted the Quarterly Real Estate Roundup focused on the “Legislative Effects of the 2018 Election.”

Wiebusch’s main role is to serve the City of Maricopa as a state and national lobbyist. Thursday, he analyzed 2018 voter turnout, which was high at 65 percent, and how some of the newly elected officials might change the political landscape of Arizona.

He said the state saved a lot of money as voters approved Proposition 125 by a 52 percent vote. The vote will allow public employee retirement plans to change. Proposition 126, which passed with 64 percent of the vote, was backed by state real estate agents as it banned sales tax on services.

Proposition 127, called the clean energy act, failed with 69 percent of the voters. The measure would have required the state to produce 50 percent of their electricity using solar power.

Proposition 305, called the school vouchers program, failed by 65 percent, while 306 passed with 56 percent. Prop 306, an amendment to the Clean Elections Act, prohibits the dispersal of some unused political funds from politicians to political parties and places campaign fraud investigations under the governor’s regulatory commission.

Wiebusch examined the federal races saying, “We had an interesting turnover. For the first time in history of the state, we have more Democrats in Congress than we do Republicans.”

He noted in Arizona’s nine congressional districts voters sent five Democrats and four Republicans to Washington, along with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema to the U.S. Senate.

Wiebusch said there are about 700,000 people in each of Arizona’s nine congressional districts. With expected population growth to more than 7 million people in the next census, Wiebusch said he believes Arizona will gain a 10th district.

“That will give us another seat, and someone will lose. A Back East state that’s not gaining population, Ohio perhaps, would lose one of theirs. Which will mean something for here. We are in Congressional District 1. We are the tip (of District 1). It’s a gigantic district. When we redistrict after the census in 2020, my guess is that district will be cut in half. I would expect Pinal County to probably be its own district,” Wiebusch said.

He analyzed the 30 state districts and how elections would impact the Legislature with about 213,000 people per district. He also spoke about the state official elections.

“When we go through the census, we do redistricting. We have an independent commission draw our districts. You have two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent picked by those sides. They are the people who are in charge of redrawing our districts. Many states let state legislatures draw them. You’ve heard the term gerrymandering. They draw them in very peculiar ways to ensure that their party wins. We don’t do that here,” Wiebusch said.

He added that the new districts will be crafted in 2021, which will take effect in the 2022 election.

Wiebusch explained how successful bills go through the state government and noted the state’s “request to speak” system that allows citizens to weigh in on proposed bills before the Arizona Legislature. He also discussed how bills could be tracked through the Arizona ALIS system, www.azleg.gov.

Dale.Wiebusch@maricopa-az.gov

Maricopa Ace owner Mike Richey (left) listens to Dale Wiebusch. Photo by Jim Headley

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Construction crews continued to work in the drizzle Thursday. Photo by Jim Headley

Light rain coming from the Pacific southwest has begun in the Maricopa area. Showers will remain likely through Friday evening, but sunshine is expected to return Saturday as things dry out with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, according to the National Weather Service.

Today

Showers are likely most of the afternoon as the day is mostly cloudy with a high near 60 degrees F. Southeast wind around 5 mph will be calm in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch are possible. The night will be mostly cloudy with a low around 47. Chance of precipitation continues to be 60 percent. New precipitation amounts are between a 10th and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday

More showers are likely, mainly before 11 a.m., and the day will be partly sunny with a high near 62. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch are possible. Friday night will be mostly clear with a low around 43.

Saturday

The sun will reappear with a high near 63. Saturday night will be mostly clear with a low around 41. North northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm.

Sunday

Sunny with a high near 65. Northeast wind around 5 mph. Sunday Night will be partly cloudy with a low around 42. North wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening.

The sunny skies and cool temperatures continue into the following week.

 

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Peg Chapados was presented with her own faux street sign as she stepped down from council Tuesday. Photo by Victor Moreno

Vice Mayor Peggy Chapados borrowed one from David Letterman as she retired from the Maricopa City Council after six years Tuesday night.

At Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, Mayor Christian Price said Chapados is one of the “kindest people” he knows.

“We may not always agree with her, but you know where she stands. She is always thinking of other people in one fashion or another. If you know Peg at all, you know she is one of the most organized people you will ever meet. So, to go away – of course she has a PowerPoint presentation. You think I’m kidding but she has one. Take it away,” Price said.

Chapados said she wanted to go out in an “unconventional” manner, so she read her top 10 list of “take-aways that she has learned by being on the Maricopa City Council.”

10. Be a public servant.

9. You don’t know what you don’t know.

8. Preparing for government is something like an iceberg – you only see what’s on the surface.

7. The meetings are the easiest part of this job.

6. It’s not about me, it’s about my city.

5. Serve before self.

4. It’s about building something positive.

3. You can’t do this job alone.

2. Maricopa has the greatest volunteers, staff, public safety personnel, executive team and city manager.

1. This is the best job I’ll ever have – so thank you.

Following a standing ovation, Chapados personally thanked those who helped her during her six years on the city council, past and present. “My fellow council members, thank you for the privilege of serving with you. We made a lot of great decisions here and we got a lot accomplished. We should be proud,” Chapados said. She also thanked the voters of Maricopa for putting their faith in her and electing her to office.

The city fire department presented Chapados with a bronze firefighter figure and made her a lifetime honorary member of the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department.

Council members presented Chapados with a custom-made Maricopa street sign with the street name of “Chapados Way” on it. They also presented her with a “basket of snacks” and a cat-themed Christmas sweater.

Re-elected Councilmember Henry Wade takes the oath from Judge Lyle Riggs. He was subsequently voted vice mayor by the rest of the council. Photo by Victor Moreno

Following her farewell, re-elected members of the council Vincent Manfredi and Henry Wade were sworn into office by the Honorable Judge Lyle Riggs along with Rich Vitiello, who is replacing Chapados on the board.

The council stopped its regular meeting for a short reception in the lobby to celebrate the swearing-in ceremonies with cookies and lemonade.

Besides the consent agenda and some presentations and reports, the only thing on the council’s agenda was the re-zoning of three tracts of land in the Copper Sky Development.

While zoning changes might be important, these three changes don’t really change the zoning of the land very much, according to Maricopa Senior Planner Rodolfo Lopez. Instead the changes simply modernized wording to update the properties from old to new zoning codes.

There are no proposed development plans for the property at this time, according to Lopez. There was no discussion about the zoning changes by members of the council on Tuesday evening as they approved the measures.

One matter at the end of the zoning changes did allow the city to modify the maximum height of buildings allowed in the city from 40 to 60 feet. The change was approved by the council unanimously with little discussion.

At the end of the meeting, board member Marvin Brown, a former vice mayor, nominated Henry Wade as vice mayor, and the council voted 7-0 to approve his nomination.

Prior to Chapados’ exit, the city council opened Tuesday’s meeting with a pinning ceremony for the city fire department promotions of Brad Pitassi and Joshua Eads to the rank of captain and Justin Henzel to engineer.



Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.

Sworn in Tuesday were (from left) Vincent Manfredi, Rich Vitiello and Henry Wade. Photos by Victor Moreno

The Honeycutt Road closure will be the first significant traffic disruption caused by construction of the overpass project. Photo by Jim Headley

If you travel on West Honeycutt Road, your life is about to change.

Starting Thursday at 9 p.m. Honeycutt Road will be closed from North Pershing Street to John Wayne Parkway (Highway 347). Newly constructed Plainview Street will be opened east of Pershing at the same time.

“There will be detour signs. Essentially you will be able to go on Honeycutt until Plainview,” said City of Maricopa Public Information Officer Adam Wolfe. “Honeycutt will be completely closed from Pershing to Highway 347. There will still be access to the businesses. The detour will be to Maricopa-Casa Grande on Plainview.”

A view of the new Plainview Street from the south. It will take traffic from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway (seen across the bottom left corner of the photo) to Honeycutt Road. Photo by David Durst

Wolfe said Honeycutt will be closed to be expanded in width and elevated.

Following are Arizona Department of Transportation’s recommended detours to access Honeycutt Road:

Eastbound
Proceed to Maricopa Casa Grande Highway (MCGH) from SR 347
Turn north on the new Plainview Street (located west of the Maricopa Unified School District building)
Proceed east on Honeycutt Road

Westbound
From Honeycutt Road, turn south on the new Plainview Street (located west of the Maricopa Unified School District building) to MCGH
Proceed northwest on MCGH to SR 347

According to ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann, there will eventually be lighted intersections on both ends of Plainview Street.

Construction activity will begin to pick up significantly as the $55 million overpass project enters its second phase. Crews will widen and add new sidewalks, curb and gutter to the south side of Honeycutt Road. Workers will also begin rebuilding a segment of the road that will connect with a realigned section of SR 347, once the overpass is built.

In addition, a new signalized intersection at SR 347 and Honeycutt Road will be built near the end of phase two of the project.

The stoplight at 347 and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be removed, according to Wolfe, as it will not be needed due to the construction of the new overpass in the area.

“That road will no longer go across the (railroad) tracks. It will help traffic flow significantly,” Wolfe said.

Honeycutt Road will remain closed through next summer. The entire overpass project is expected to be complete by the fall of 2019.

The section of Honeycutt road from John Wayne Parkway to Pershing Street will be closed for several months.

Maricopa Post Office is on Hathaway Avenue. Photo by Michelle Chance

 

As Wednesday is declared a National Day of Mourning to mark the passing of President George H.W. Bush, don’t plan on your mail being delivered.

The U.S. Postal Service is suspending regular mail deliveries that day, after President Donald Trump declared it a federal holiday to honor Bush. USPS retail services and offices will also be closed.

But the Postal Service will still do limited package deliveries, to prevent interruption in its holiday season operations.

Packages from private companies like FedEx and UPS would still arrive as normal. Financial markets and the Supreme Court will also take a day off to honor Bush.

Locally the state, county and local governments are not planning interruptions of hours or services though all flags will be posted to half-staff.

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The City of Maricopa will swear in three councilmembers Tuesday night. Photo by Jim Headley

Tuesday evening Rich Vitiello will be sworn in as the newest Maricopa City Councilmember at the city council’s regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

Joining Vitiello in the swearing in ceremony will be re-elected council members Vincent Manfredi and Henry Wade. The council will honor Vice Mayor Peg Chapados as she leaves the council.

Adam Wolfe, the city public information officer, said there will be a small reception for the council members after they are sworn in. The reception will be in the lobby of City Hall before the meeting is reconvened.

“It’s a pretty light agenda this week,” Wolfe said.

Besides the onset agenda and some presentations, the council’s agenda is comprised of the rezoning of three tracts of land in the Copper Sky development. While zoning changes might be important, these three changes have little impact on the land, according to Maricopa Senior Planner Rodolfo Lopez.

“It’s currently zoned transitional zoning, which is under the old City of Maricopa Zoning Code. We are converting it to our new nomenclature from 2014. In a way it’s apples to apples – so it will be TR zoning to mixed use general zoning. It is just making is right with the current zoning code. There is no proposed development plans at this time. It is a way of prepping the land for potential development. It will make is somewhat shovel-ready,” Lopez said.

Lopez said his office has not received any opposition nor support for the proposal.


Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.

Rashawn Calvert came to Arizona to take over the Maricopa High School girls' varsity basketball team, which starts its season Friday. Photo by Jim Headley

 

Maricopa High School’s new girls’ basketball coach will surprise you.

Rashawn Calvert has taken over the reins of the Maricopa team this year, but this first-year high school coach sports a master’s degree and even some head coaching experience at the college level.

Calvert, 24, is a physical education teacher at Maricopa High.

“I just moved here from McPherson, Kansas, where I was a grad assistant coach at McPherson College,” she said.

Calvert is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She played four years of basketball at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She transferred to NAIA Division II McPherson College while she obtained a master’s in health science from Fort Hays College.

“I am new, but I think I’m ready,” she said. “As a graduate assistant, I gained a lot more experience than you would expect.”

During her time at McPherson College, Calvert assumed the role of head JV basketball coach and first assistant for their varsity program.

“I had some experience actually coaching as the head varsity coach at the end. I was thrown in to do recruiting and coaching,” Calvert said. “A lot of grad assistants are paperwork and maybe a scouting report. You might help pass a ball now and then. I give a lot of thanks because I have a lot of experience – more than most people at my age.”

She admitted she is a little nervous to lead the team this year but she remains excited by the opportunity at the same time.

“If I didn’t think I was ready, I wouldn’t have applied for it,” she said.

Calvert said she is blessed with six seniors this season, including three returning starters and another senior with playing experience last year. As far as height on the team, Calvert added, “Yes, I have a couple trees this year. It’s exciting to see that we will have some post presence this year.”

As a PE teacher, Calvert said, “I have a lot of athletes that I am using to play basketball. They are hard workers and we get after it.”

The Maricopa team has been in practice three weeks and opens the 2018-19 season with the Scorpion Shootout, a Thanksgiving tournament on Friday against O’Conner at Desert Edge High School at 10:30 a.m.

“We scrimmaged last Thursday, and it went pretty well,” Calvert said.

A total of 14 players are on this year’s Maricopa High team. Last season Maricopa finished at 18-10.

2018-19 Roster
10 Italy Brookshire, Sr.
11 Brooke Smith, Soph.
12 Jayla Johnson, Sr.
13 Divere Brown, Sr.
20 Jene Brown, Sr.
21 Shakira Gillespie, Soph.
22 Tayler Coleman, Jr.
23 Katherine Gores, Fr.
24 Destinee Chavis, Sr.
30 Jade Placer, Sr.
31 Andrea Harker, Jr.
32 Edrianna Harry, Jr.
44 Yasmeen Hanania, Jr.
45 Evone Santiago, Soph.

Schedule:
Nov. 23-24           Scorpion Shootout, Desert Edge HS
Nov. 27                 vs. Apollo, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29                 @Camelback, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30                 vs. North Canyon, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4                    vs. Sierra Linda, 7 p.m.
Dec. 6                   @Notre Dame prep, 7 p.m.
Dec. 7                   @Carl Hayden, 7 p.m.
Dec. 11                  vs. Marana, 7 p.m.
Dec. 13                 @Independence, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18                 @Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Dec. 27-29           Chandler Prep New Year’s Classic
Jan. 8                   @Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11                  @Higley 7 p.m.
Jan. 15                  vs. Casteel, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18                  vs. Gilbert, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22                 vs. Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25                 vs. Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29                 vs. Higley, 7 p.m. (Senior Night)
Feb. 1                   @Casteel, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5                   @Gilbert, 7 p.m.

Arthur Eric Magana (PCSO photo)

 

It took less than one hour Monday for a Pinal County jury to find Arthur Eric Magaña guilty of killing 20-year-old Wyatt Miller.

Magana was convicted of first-degree murder after shooting Miller 11 times in the back of the head and neck on Nov. 7, 2016. The jury also found Magaña guilty of armed robbery as Miller was killed during the theft of four ounces of marijuana.

Magaña, now 18, is accused of killing Miller inside his truck. The alleged murder took place in a rural area of Maricopa, according to court testimony.

Magaña was just 16 years old at the time of the murder but is charged as an adult due to the gruesome nature of the murder.

Magaña’s murder and armed robbery trial began Wednesday and was handed to the nine-woman, three-man jury Monday afternoon just after 2 p.m. The jury took under an hour to return the guilty verdicts. 

The jury was brought back into the courtroom at 3:45 p.m. to hear sentencing instructions and decide Magaña’s fate in the second phase of the trial.

Judge Kevin White said the jury will only determine the aggravated circumstances and not Magaña’s sentence. White will be the one to determine the 18-year-old’s sentence.

The state called two witnesses in the second phase of the trial including Maxine Medlock, Wyatt Miller’s mother.

“I’m not sure where to begin. Wyatt was the love of my life. He had such a good spirit. A loss of a child is so painful. The pain never goes away. Wyatt had his whole life ahead of him… I’m upset I have to live the rest of my life without him,” she said.

The state also called Travis Miller, Wyatt’s father. “We, as parents, aren’t supposed to bury our children,” he said. “My life has changed 180 degrees.”

The defense called no witnesses in the second phase.

The jury left the courtroom at 4:15 to determine if the first-degree murder charge would be enhanced due to aggravating circumstances. Attorneys were told to wait in the hallway as the jury decided.

The jury returned at 4:46 to hand down their aggravating circumstances endorsement.

Magana’s fate then rested in the hands of Judge White. He ordered Magaña held without bond and set sentencing for Dec. 17.

 

Arthur Eric Magana (PCSO photo)

Closing arguments began in Arthur Magaña’s murder trial Monday afternoon in Pinal County Superior Court, and the jury began deliberation within an hour.

Magaña, 18, is accused of killing 20-year-old Wyatt Miller by shooting him 11 times inside his truck on Nov. 7, 2016.

The alleged murder took place in a rural area of Maricopa during the theft of four ounces of marijuana, according to court testimony. Magaña was just 16 years old at the time of the murder but is charged as an adult due to the gruesome nature of the murder.

Magaña’s murder and armed robbery trial began Wednesday and was handed to the nine-woman, three-man jury Monday afternoon just after 2 p.m.

State opened closing arguments.

“What is the value of a life,” said prosecutor Patrick Johnson. “For this defendant, life is cheap. It was just the cost of doing business.”

Gustavo Olivo was also involved in the crime and has already pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and armed robbery.

“He (Magaña) fired 11 rounds into the back of his head, and Wyatt didn’t even see it coming. He took the cowards way out and never gave him a chance,” Johnson said in closing arguments.

Officers trained in tracking followed footprints to a house where the defendants were located, according to Johnson.

“They made it pretty easy for them… They led officers right to themselves,” Johnson told the jury.

Investigators smelled marijuana after entering the house and found the four ounces of marijuana, allegedly taken from Miller. More evidence was found in the freezer and their shoes matched the prints. Blood was also found on their shoes, according to Johnson.

“This isn’t a self-defense case,” Johnson said. “This is not a case where someone has no other choice but to use lethal force.”

Johnson said the 9mm semi-automatic HK handgun used in the murder was purchased by Magaña’s mother. He added that blood on Magana’s clothing matched Miller’s DNA.

“He never realized he had Wyatt Miller’s blood on him,” Johnson told the jury.

Johnson called the crime a planned armed robbery and execution.

“His body tells you what happened. Of the 11 wounds, not one was in the face. Wyatt Miller never saw it coming,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Magana also bragged about the murder and “was proud of what he did. He was the one who pulled the trigger 11 times and killed Wyatt Miller… Not only killed him he executed him…it was a cowardly execution.”

Defense attorney David Gregan reviewed the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” statute with the jury. He said Olivo and Miller knew each other, and that Olivo is the one who went around the vehicle and grabbed the marijuana after the alleged murder took place.

“The state wants to convince you that this was a planned robbery,” Gregan said. “But that’s not the case.”

He said it wasn’t a planned robbery because they didn’t take everything and didn’t have a plan of escape from the scene.

“The evidence you saw at trial dictated that something happened out there,” Gregan said.

Gregan told the jury to realize Magaña was just 16 years old at the time and was defending himself.

“Something happened out there before the shooting. What it was, we do not know… no one knows for sure,” Gregan said.

Gregan said there was a second 9mm gun inside the vehicle that was not tested by investigators. The untested gun raised uncertainty, according to Gregan.

During the State’s rebuttal, Johnson said, “We know exactly what happened before the shooting because he (Magaña) told us… He executed him by shooting him in the back of the head 11 times.”

Johnson said the two made posts on Facebook before the incident indicating this was a planned armed robbery and Magaña bragged about the murder on videotape while in custody.

Johnson called Magaña the mastermind behind the armed robbery and execution and that Miller’s life had value and meaning even if he was a drug dealer.

“Wyatt Miller’s life had more value than four ounces of marijuana,” said Johnson.

Judge Kevin D. White read jury instructions and sent the jury to begin deliberations on the two charges, first-degree murder and armed robbery.