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Ched Bayles (PCSO)

Ched Bayles, 30, was arrested Saturday afternoon on suspicion of shoplifting and additional outstanding warrants.

According to Maricopa Police reports, officers were dispatched to Ace Hardware after a man was accused of shoplifting by store employees. Officers reviewed surveillance footage of the store entrance and observed the man, later identified as Ched Bayles, entering the business with a brown shopping bag.

A few minutes later on the tape, officers observed the Bayles leaving the store with the same bag. An Ace employee followed the Bayles out of the store, asking to see his receipt, believing he stole products.

Bayles provided the employee with six items, adding up to $38.54, according to the report. After being asked to come back into the store, Bayles allegedly stated, “don’t touch me,” and walked away. Another Ace employee attempted to chase down Bayles.

Maricopa Police were able to locate and detain Bayles within the hour on West Edison Road. After he was read his Miranda warnings, Bayles allegedly admitted he did steal the items but gave them back. He claimed he lost his money and that was the reason he took the items.

Ched Bayles was booked into Pinal County Jail on suggested charges of shoplifting, as well as pre-existing charges of failure to appear and a probation warrant.

Bayles had been arrested previously in 2017 on similar shoplifting charges in addition to assault.

James Jamison (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of assault, disorderly conduct and possession of narcotics.

Maricopa Police were dispatched to a residence on West Tamara Lane, where reports came in of James Jamison, 51, striking another man with a 5-inch rebar rod. When officers arrived on the scene, Jamison had already fled on foot. Police made contact with Jamison’s girlfriend, who stated everything started because of an argument about Jamison allegedly using methamphetamine and heroin again.

According to the report, the woman stated Jamison kicked her in the face then went after one of her family members with the rebar, striking the side of the man’s ribcage. The brother of the man got involved and was able to hold back Jamison, giving them time to get the rebar away from him, according to the report. Jamison allegedly attacked the brother, resulting in facial scratch marks that MPD identified.

Officers reported later finding Jamison at the community pool, where they placed him under arrest. Officers searched Jamison and allegedly discovered heroin and a drug pipe in the pockets of his shorts.

James Jamison was booked and transported to Pinal County Jail.

Mathier Sipes (PCSO)

Mathieu Sipes, 21, was arrested in Maricopa after being questioned by police Saturday.

According to the Maricopa Police Department report, an officer saw a vehicle in the Planet Fitness parking lot with the driver’s door open and a woman “rummaging” through it. The officer then noticed a male sitting on the sidewalk next to the vehicle. After making contact with them, the officer asked if the two needed any assistance.

During the conversation, another “male subject approached the vehicle from behind the business.”

The officer asked for identification from all three people. Upon providing a driver’s license, the man who came from behind the building was identified as Sipes.

MPD requested a wants and warrants check on all three individuals, and an active warrant for Sipes was discovered. The warrant for failure to appear was originally issued on Aug. 26 from the Casa Grande Justice Court with the initial charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police took Mathieu Sipes into custody reportedly without incident and transported him to Pinal County Jail.

Cynthia Rojo Torres (PCSO)

Cynthia Rojo Torres, 26, was arrested around noon Aug. 23 with recommended charges of aggravated domestic assault and domestic disorderly conduct.

MPD responded to a report of a physical altercation at a home on West Balsa Drive between Rojo Torres and another woman. According to the police report, during the altercation Rojo Torres threw the other woman to the floor and began kicking her in the face.

The woman was observed to have a bloody nose from the kicking as well as numerous scratches on her face. Upon the officers’ arrival, they reported that the blood appeared to be very fresh on her face.

After making contact with the women, Maricopa police were told Rojo Torres allegedly began choking the woman from behind during the altercation. The woman stated that “she almost lost consciousness.”

The woman was transported to the family advocacy center for evaluation of her injuries and photographs were taken for further review.

Rojo Torres was placed under arrest and transported to Pinal County Jail.

Talks about prosecution philosophy, plea deals, marijuana and the challenges of the office

Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer talks about his time in office. Photo by Kyle Norby

Kent Volkmer, a Republican, was elected Pinal County Attorney in 2016 after several years in private practice. He sat down with InMaricopa to talk about criminal justice and some of the issues his office is tackling.

What is a day in the life of the county attorney?
A lot of meetings, as opposed to being in the courtroom every day. I would say any given day, probably three or four different meetings with various entities, various agencies. Typically, Monday is my most consistent day getting kind of caught up on stuff that happened on the weekend. On every Monday afternoon for about two hours, I meet with my chief of criminal, my chief deputy, my chief of staff as well as my head of civil, and we talk about kind of issues that are upcoming issues and preparing for what’s going on.

You rarely do appear in court. How many attorneys does your office have?
I believe we have 45 current attorneys.

In what circumstances do you go to court?
Honestly, there’s very, very few reasons. I actually am handling a trial coming up soon simply because it was a very unique situation. I felt comfortable handling the matter and didn’t want to put somebody else in that position just because of the unique circumstances surrounding it. Otherwise, it’s normally just saying, ‘Hi,’ to people. Actually, formally appearing on the record, I can’t tell the last time that happened.

Pinal County General Fund distribution

A giant chunk of the county budget (63 percent) goes to law enforcement, courts and prosecutions. What are your office’s costs?
Personnel. Ninety percent is just people.

What are your opportunities for keeping costs down?
There are some. Oh, yes, we absolutely do have grants. We have the JAG Byrne grant [Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant], which is federal prosecution grant. We have a number of other grants that come forward. Actually, in this current budget cycle here, I was able to request, and our Board of Supervisors gave me, a grant coordinator, so we’re actually going to have a dedicated person in our office that’s looking at those costs to see if there are any grants available. There are a number of federal grants. A lot of time when you do a pilot program or you do programs that other people aren’t doing, the government’s willing to give you those resources to get kick-started. That’s kind of how we kick-started our diversion program. The state gave us about $400,000 to really offset the costs to the taxpayer and then try to make the program sustainable.

How is the Diversion Program working?
I’m thrilled with it. About 2.5 percent of our felony cases are diverted and a bunch of our misdemeanor cases. So about 600, 650 cases in a given year are diverted. What that means is people that we identify as not being a danger to society but made a dumb decision, a poor decision, are given the opportunity to complete consequences, do a risk assessment, hopefully fix whatever caused them to make that bad decision in the first place, and then the charges are ultimately dismissed, so there’s no conviction on their record.

What are you enjoying most about your job so far?
That’s a good question. I think the ability that it gives me to really effect change in our community. There are a lot of different things I’ve been able to do, one of the things I’m very proud of is, under Arizona law when we’ve talked about marijuana specifically, prosecutors are given the opportunity to charge it either as a felony or as a misdemeanor. It’s sort of our decision. What I discovered is my office is making these decisions often without the input of law enforcement, without the input of the people who are on the ground interacting with these people. One of the things that we did is we flipped that and we allow the officer at the scene to make the initial decision and then we sort of review it on the back side. What we’ve discovered is that’s reduced about 750 felony charging of marijuana year-over-year. The other thing that does is significantly reduces the bookings at the jail, which is a huge cost savings to everyone. Just those types of things where we get to sit back and ask, ‘What’s the right thing to do? What’s the best thing for our community? What’s the safest thing we can do?’ This job gives me that opportunity. It’s a powerful position, but it’s also a humbling position and I love it.

Speaking of marijuana, if recreational marijuana were legalized in the state, how would that impact your office?
At the felony level, it would not have nearly the full impact. I have not had the opportunity to review all of the proposal, but I do know that they limit the amount of personal possession to one ounce, which I do like. Two and a half ounces is about a hundred joints. To say that’s personal possession has always kind of struck me as a little bit odd. So, they’ve reduced that number. There’s still going to be a gap between 18 and 21; I’m not sure how they want to treat that. There’s also still going to be above that threshold, how they’re going to handle it. Most of the time, when we’re prosecuting at the felony level, it’s going to be the sale amounts; it’s going to be the huge amounts. Depending on how that law is actually written, whether it’s passed, it’ll have some impact but not the impact it would have had, say, three or four years ago.

What is your philosophy when it comes to plea deals in cases of violent felonies?
Pleas are a necessary evil. About 98 percent of our cases resolve via plea. And that’s for a number of reasons, one of which is, frankly, the financial aspect of it. You mentioned most of our county budget goes to law enforcement. Our budget’s about $12 million of taxpayer dollars that we receive. If we were to try many more cases, that number would necessarily have to increase correspondingly. It’s not necessarily a dollar-for-dollar increase, but it would have to go up. So we do have to use those pleas. I’m much more comfortable using them in the non-violent cases. It’s the violent ones that are much more difficult, because part of my obligation is to make sure that I keep this community safe. I’m not going to say we don’t offer pleas, but typically on those murder cases, those real high-end cases, all of those pleas are normally staffed. That means the attorney assigned has reviewed it along with their supervisor and then usually my chief deputy and myself and the team to look at those and figure out what an appropriate resolution is.

In the violent cases, would it that state feels there’s a vulnerability in the case more than the cost?
It’s not a vulnerability in the case; it’s typically a vulnerability to the community. The law gives us the ability to put people away for a really long time. The issue is if someone has a violent propensity and they commit this offense, the law says, ‘Well, presumptive sentence, for example, is 10.5 years.’ And we say, ‘We’re going to give you 3.5 years.’ My concern is if that person gets out in 3.5 years and then commits another violent offense, how do I look that victim in the face and say, ‘Yeah, I know the law told me this is what I was supposed to do, but it was really expensive, so I put finances above your safety.’ Sometimes it does have to do with vulnerability of cases, but typically it’s what do we really need to do to make sure our community’s safe, and what does this person really need? Is this somebody who, again, maybe has a drug addiction, maybe has some violent tendencies? Is this somebody that we can put in prison and have them come out on probation to give what they need to return to our community, or is this somebody that we have to put away because we can trust them to follow our societal laws to keep us safe?

What have you accomplished so far and what would you like to accomplish before the end of this term?
Seems like I should know the answer to that question. I think the things that we’ve done have really been incremental. I don’t know that there’s been a lot of wide-sweeping, giant modifications that we’ve done. One of the things we’ve done is we’ve tried to streamline the process. I think my greatest accomplishment is, I believe, that my office is looking at each case as an individual case. We’re not looking at it as numbers. We’re not looking at it as paperwork, but these are humans that we’re trying to make an individualized decision on, to do what’s best not only for that person but for the community as a whole. That’s a mindset. It really is, because it’s easy to say, ‘No, no, this is what we’re going to do, and we can just run through these cases very quickly.’ It takes more time, it takes more willpower, it takes more emotional investment to look at an individual case and say, ‘Yeah, I know that these are both burglaries, but we need to treat these different because of the impact on the community, because of the impact on the victim, because the actual sort of criminal mindset that’s involved.’ I think my office is doing an exceptional job of carrying out that mission.

Did you have anything that you’d specifically like to accomplish by the end of this term?
I don’t know that I do. Our job is to see justice done. It’s not to gain convictions. It’s not to have a trial rate or put so many people in prison or put so many people on probation. Our job is to do everything we can to keep this community safe. Our community, we’re safer than any of the other big communities. The likelihood of one of our residents being victimized is about half the rate it is if you live in Maricopa County. It 2.5 times more likely in Pima County to be victimized. We’re safer than Yavapai County and Prescott, we’re safer than Yuma, we’re safer than all the other counties. My job is to make sure we keep that train headed in the right direction.

What has been your biggest challenge as county attorney?
The biggest challenge, I think, is finding the balance between what the law says we should do and what individualized justice is and figuring out what is truly in the best interest of our community. I’ll give you a perfect example. If you have two prior felonies and you’re caught selling drugs, let’s say a very small amount in hand-to-hand sales. You had half a gram, which is half an M&M, and you sell half of that amount to your friend for just the amount you paid for it. That’s a Class 2 felony. Under our laws, if you have those two prior felonies you should be serving 15.75 years in prison. I think most people would say 15.75 years is more than necessary. It’s sort of that ‘The strictest justice is the greatest injustice.’ But the question is, how far do you pull that back? What’s the appropriate amount? What’s really fair and just under those circumstances? Because, again, if somebody’s harmed or that person gets high and drives in a vehicle and kills somebody, it’s really hard to look those victims in the eye and say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, I took a chance and I was wrong.’ Maybe letting that person on probation isn’t right, but there’s got to be a balance, and I’m really trying to figure out what that balance is, what the community wants. I’m a representative of the community; I’ve been elected by the community to represent the will of the community. We are a representative democracy; we are a republic. We are not mob rule. So there is this delicate balance of trying to figure out what is really the thing that we should be doing for our community. What should we be doing that is in the interest of all the residents that are here? And then you also have that second sort of balance. What are other counties doing? Because we have a few different cities now that are sharing borders. We have Apache Junction that is on both sides. We have Queen Creek that’s on us both sides. We have kind of Oracle/Oro Valley/Catalina area there. We also have Marana who’s now growing. Depending on what side of the street you’re on should not make a huge difference in what your consequences are. You shouldn’t get probation if you’re on one side and prison on the other. That becomes justice by geography. That’s just as fundamentally flawed.


This story appears in part in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Crystal Montijo (PCSO)

Maricopa Police pulled over Crystal Montijo, 33, who was driving a vehicle that was reported stolen. Police approached the vehicle just south of State Route 347 and Ferrell Road and made contact with “two female subjects” inside the vehicle.

Montijo was identified as the driver, placed under arrest and brought to Maricopa Police Station. During an interview with MPD, Montijo allegedly stated the stolen vehicle was actually borrowed from her friend’s boyfriend and claimed her friend gave her the keys to it the previous week. Montijo also stated her friend wanted the car back on a certain date, but she was unable to return it because she “got stranded.”

Although Montijo reportedly said she was planning on returning the vehicle when she returned to Arizona City, she had no contact information for her friend for police to confirm her story.

Back at the scene of the traffic stop, officers allegedly located two bags inside the vehicle containing methamphetamine, a broken pipe, cotton balls, and capped needles.

The officer interviewing Montijo at the station asked her who the bags belonged to, and she stated they were hers. The officer included in the police report that upon asking what was inside the bags, Montijo said, “You know what’s inside the bags.”

Not answering any more questions, Montijo was transported to the county jail on recommended charges of theft of means of transportation, possessions of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Guilty of murder in Careccia deaths

Jose Valenzuela is led away after sentencing Monday. Photo by Kyle Norby

 

Family and friends of Tina and Michael Careccia packed the pews of Judge Christopher O’Neil’s fourth-floor courtroom for the sentencing of Jose Valenzuela, who had pled guilty to double murder in their 2015 shooting deaths.

Many of them came forward to tell the judge how the murders had traumatized their lives and to ask him for the full penalty available.

In the end, O’Neil did so, calling the crime “an unspeakable evil.” He sentenced Valenzuela to the maximum allowed in the plea deal brokered by his attorneys and the special prosecutor – natural life for the first-degree murder of Tina Careccia and, consecutively, 25 years for the second-degree murder of Michael Careccia.

“That this defendant will not receive the sentence of death is a great and undeserved mercy,” O’Neil said.

Special Prosecutor Gary Husk said the plea agreement sufficiently punished Valenzuela and protected the community, “and I was fortunate to have the support of the family in making that decision.”

“Death penalty cases these days, unfortunately, can result in extensive delays. Even if you do get a conviction and a penalty of a death sentence imposed by the court, it can take decades, literally, before that is imposed,” Husk said. “I think the families in this particular case were committed to trying to bring some resolution to this.

“It has already been over four years to bring this case to this stage. We felt that it was appropriate to resolve it in this fashion and not run the risk of going to trial, and maybe not getting it and if you do get it run the risk of it being overturned 20 years later when you don’t have evidence and you don’t have witnesses any longer.”

Husk was appointed to prosecute the case by Navajo County after Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer recused his office from involvement. As a private attorney before being elected in 2016, Volkmer represented the legal rights of Valenzuela’s young son in the early days of the case.

Before the court proceedings Monday afternoon in Pinal County Superior Court, the judge had read every letter, PowerPoint and memorandum given to him from both sides of the case. Several of those speaking to the court said there was no leniency and no forgiveness for Valenzuela’s actions.

Valenzuela, too, read a brief statement, saying he was sorry for all the families, “including my own.”

Despite that, O’Neil said the court “does not find any believable remorse.”

Speaking earnestly and emotionally, O’Neil said while punishment should fit the crime, there is no punishment that could equal the loss of two lives.

“Human life is a sacred and priceless gift. It possesses a value that is beyond measure. It cannot be measured, not in dollars, not in years, not even in the stories and the tears of those left behind. To define and destroy something so precious and so irreplaceable as a human life and all that it entails, all of its value that transcends calculation without just cause, to rob the world of the inestimable value of a mother, father, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, friend is an unspeakable evil.” – Judge Christopher O’Neil

“She was my best friend,” Tina’s daughter Blake Perry told the court. “They never got to meet their first grandchild.”

“My life will truly never be the same,” said Luke Careccia, Michael’s son, who said his father “made me the man I am today.”

The court heard from siblings and other relatives. A social worker read a letter from Michael’s mother. Those who gave victim statements described the brutal ordeal of the past four years, the ongoing panic attacks and even post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Much of the family left the courtroom when defense attorney Bobbi Falduto made a case for mitigating factors. Falduto said Valenzuela asked her not to have his family members speak in court.

“He really was a good person,” Falduto said. “It wasn’t just their family. Mike, Tina and Jose, they were all good parents. This has impacted his family as well.”

The judge was not moved.

“The aggravating circumstances in this case so desperately outweigh any and all mitigation,” O’Neil said.

The Careccias died the night of Father’s Day 2015 or in the early morning after. Valenzuela had been at a party at the Careccia home that evening before returning to his parents’ home where he lived a couple blocks away on Papago Road. The Careccias later apparently drove to his residence.

Valenzuela claimed they all did drugs together, including methamphetamine. He and Michael Careccia got into an argument, and Valenzuela shot him. He then reportedly held down Tina Careccia and shot her as she pled for her life. Afterward, he borrowed a backhoe and buried the bodies in his backyard just steps from his door.

The Careccias were missing for 11 days as the residents of Hidden Valley and Maricopa searched the area. Pinal County Sheriff’s Office had Valenzuela as a person of interest and used his statements to eventually uncover the bodies early the morning of July 2.

“His actions were calculated, callous, deliberate and depraved; that he committed these murders in the presence of a child, and not only a child but his own son,” Judge O’Neil said. “That he lied, misled law enforcement officers, concealed and destroyed evidence, including the fact that this concealment further desecrated the very bodies of the lives he destroyed of two persons he claims to have called friends.”

Stay with InMaricopa for more coverage.

 

Veronica and Corey Masterson were indicted by a grand jury. PCSO photos

 

A pre-trial conference has been set for Veronica and Corey Masterson, a Maricopa couple accused of child abuse.

Friday, the couple, who are free on bonds of $50,000 each, appeared together in front of Judge Jason Holmberg. Though they have separate attorneys, only one attorney was in court to push the proceedings forward.

Veronica Masterson, 38, and Corey Masterson, 37, still have a hearing set in October, but their pre-trial conference was placed on Nov. 8.

They are accused of abusing their three children from November 2017 to November 2018 and were indicted on felony counts in December. In law enforcement records, the children accused the pair of hitting and kicking them, taping their mouths shut and depriving them of food and water.

The couple lost an infant child in 2013, and Veronica Masterson’s four oldest children perished in a fire last year in Illinois.

 

Kelli Shaver (PCSO)

A Maricopa woman was arrested in Rancho El Dorado around 5 p.m. Monday on suspicion of aggravated harassment.

A Maricopa Police officer made contact with Kelli Shaver, 52, on North Braden Drive after receiving a call about a disturbance. According to the report, Shaver explained to the officer she was arguing with her husband. She allegedly left numerous voicemails for a woman with whom Shaver believed her husband was having an affair. Shaver told police the woman already had a restraining order against her.

According to the officer’s report, Shaver was well aware of the restraining order, and said, “I went after her again because I feel like that’s the source of my threat even though I’ve been told not to, I know better.”

While speaking to Shaver, MPD received a call from the woman who had received Shaver’s voicemails. The woman described the several voicemails as “threatening,” with one of them beginning with Shaver identifying herself and telling the woman once she found out where she was, “you’re done.”

Shaver was arrested and booked for suspected charges of aggravated harassment. By law, an aggravation factor is added when a restraining order violation is involved.

Kenneth Ragan (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was arrested late Thursday night on suspicion of criminal damage, disorderly conduct, and domestic assault.

Police were called to a Senita residence around 12:30 a.m. A woman reported her husband, Kenneth Ragan, pushed her out of their bed onto the floor. She also claimed Kenneth created a hole in the wall after hitting it and blocked her from leaving the house with their child.

Ragan also threw her phone across the room, according to the police report. She was able to make it to her vehicle. Officers reported that while she was driving away, Kenneth “struck the hood of the vehicle causing damage.”

Maricopa Police subsequently booked Ragan in Pinal County Jail.

Yonatan Vasquez Vides (PCSO){

Yonatan Vasquez Vides, 25, was arrested Friday night after an altercation at McDonald’s was videoed.

A local woman who was at McDonald’s on John Wayne Parkway with her friends posted a video on a local Facebook group that allegedly showed Vasquez Vides trying to touch her friend. They reportedly didn’t know who he was. The woman began recording on her cellphone when another man, identified as Kieran Gallagher, attempted to get Vasquez Vides away from the table of girls.

The video supports the police report and shows a man purported to be Vasquez Vides begin to swing his fist at Gallagher. He allegedly hit Gallagher in the arm. After the initial contact, McDonald’s staff intervened. The suspect is then seen fleeing the scene through an exit door by the children’s play area. Police observed redness on Gallagher’s right forearm, but no further injuries.

According to the police report, Police were called and made contact with Vasquez Vides across the street at Fry’s Marketplace. Vasquez Vides requested to be seen by Maricopa Fire/Medical Department for a knee injury. While MFD Capt. Nathan Maxcy was evaluating the suspect’s knee, Vasquez Vides allegedly proceeded to kick him in the shin, leaving a red mark.

Vasquez Vides was placed under arrest and booked in Pinal County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault on fire/EMT personnel and assault.

 

Ex-boyfriend of 'Real Housewives' star charged

Matthew Jordan (PCSO)

A man best known as the ex-boyfriend of a “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member was arrested early Saturday morning after an incident that took place at Denny’s.

Maricopa Police arrived on the scene at the parking lot, where they were told Matthew Jordan, 32, punched his recent girlfriend Valerie Bell in the face. Police observed redness, swelling and bruising on the side of Bell’s nose. Jordan had already left the scene before police arrived.

Officers then spoke with a restaurant employee, who was a witness to the incident. The server stated the whole ordeal occurred right in front of her, and was approached by Jordan in extremely close proximity after he allegedly hit Bell. She said she felt like she was about to be hit as well.

The server said Jordan “snatched” her pack of cigarettes, even the one in her mouth, and proceeded to try to throw them on the roof. After Jordan fled, the server noticed blood from Valerie’s face all over her and her dress.

Officers attempted to locate Jordan with no luck until hours later when Bell called MPD to report Jordan had come to her home and was walking west on Thornberry Lane in Glennwilde.

Officers located and arrested Jordan on suspicion of aggravated assault, theft and threatening/intimidating along with pre-existing warrants.

Jordan, who has previous arrests in Georgia, is the ex-boyfriend of 1993 Miss USA Kenya Moore, a cast member of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

He is described as 6-foot-7, 260 pounds. He remains behind bars on a $1,250 bond. He was arraigned Monday in Maricopa Municipal Court and faces a second arraignment Friday on new charges.

 

Erin Darr (PCSO)

The judge set a trial date for a Maricopa woman charged with two counts of child abuse.

Erin Darr, 36, was arrested last year after children made accusations of physical abuse against her, one of the most egregious described as forcing an 11-year-old child to eat her own vomit after she became sick on spoiled food. Darr initially was indicted in December on 10 counts of abuse.

She now faces two aggravated counts of abuse of a child then the victim was 15 or younger, making it fall under the Dangerous Crimes Against Children statute.

At a change-of-plea hearing Monday in Superior Court, defense attorney Terry Sutton told Judge Christopher O’Neil that Darr is prepared to go forward with a trial. That was set for Nov. 5 at 9 a.m. and scheduled for up to six days in front of a 12-member jury.

During her arrest, Maricopa Police described accusations of pulling out a child’s hair, injuring the child’s hands and feet and hitting the child with a phone, causing a bleeding wound she then attempted to fix with Super Glue. Exams also allegedly found prior injuries and medical issues that had not been treated by medical professionals.

The allegations came to light after a classmate noted a bruise on the child at school.

Darr has denied all accusations. She is free on a $50,000 bond.

In other court records, husband Chad Darr of North Dakota petitioned for legal separation with children this spring.

Maricopa Unified School District emailed Butterfield Elementary parents July 25 informing them the Maricopa Police Department inadvertently left narcotics at the elementary school after a July 3 K-9 unit exercise.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman released a follow-up statement:

“Maricopa Police officers informed an overnight security guard late Wednesday night that there was a concern regarding a training exercise that took place on July 3.  Thursday morning, the security guard alerted District officials who contacted the Police Department. The District immediately began working with the Maricopa Police Department to conduct a search. We asked students and staff to shelter in place. After interviewing teachers, officers determined a search was not necessary.

Our relationship with the Maricopa Police Department is important and the District will continue its partnership with all City agencies. However, this incident necessitates a reevaluation of our agreement to include modifications that ensure human error never puts any of our students or staff at risk.

Student and staff safety is always our first priority. We are very grateful that the students were never exposed to the package.”

“I can’t get into how it happened because the K-9 officer is currently under investigation,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “From a department standpoint, we are going to evaluate our policies and procedures to make sure that they are up to standards with other agencies that have K-9 programs.”

Alvarado said MPD will not be training in any public locations for the time being.

“Any building or facility that the public may have access to, we’re going to suspend that until we have an opportunity to look at our policies and procedures,” Alvarado said.

Earlier today MUSD sent a notification to parents regarding an incident at Butterfield Elementary School. The email shed light on officials asking students and teachers to shelter in place as Maricopa Police Department searched for narcotics they left behind during a drill on July 3.

SEE UPDATE

See a copy of the email below and we will update when more information is available.

Dear MUSD Parents:

Maricopa Unified School District partners with Maricopa Police Department in a number of ways to keep our students safe.  Part of that relationship is the use of District facilities for training purposes. This morning, district officials were informed that during a July 3rd training exercise, Maricopa Police Department may have inadvertently left narcotics on the Butterfield Elementary School campus.

This morning, District officials advised Butterfield Elementary to have students and staff shelter in place while the Maricopa Police Department conducted a search of the school.   After interviewing teachers, it was determined a teacher found the package on July 15; not knowing what it was, the teacher discarded the package in the trash.  At no time were students ever exposed to the package.

As always, our first priority is student and staff safety. We are committed to transparency and collaboration with our families and, in our connected community, receiving factual information from the source is important. If you have any questions, please contact us at 520-568-5100.

Dr. Tracey Lopeman

Superintendent

Maricopa Unified School District

David A. Turner (PCSO)

A Tortosa man was arrested Sunday afternoon after a family fight.

Maricopa Police received a call about a fight at a home on West Bilbao Street and were met by Turner upon their arrival. David Turner, 25, claimed that during a verbal argument regarding video games, his wife Naomi began to throw items around the house at him.

Turner claimed he grabbed his wife to prevent her from throwing anything because their young child was almost hit by one of the items. According to the report from officers, upon hearing the couple yelling at each other, Naomi’s father, David Hope, came out of his room to observe Turner allegedly having placed Naomi in a headlock hold.

Naomi told police that she had difficulty breathing, and officers reportedly observed redness on the left side of her neck. Hope stated he placed Turner in a “rear-naked chokehold” to get him away from Naomi.

MPD took David Turner into custody and booked him in Pinal County Jail on charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.

Machelle Hobson aka Hackney (PCSO photo)

With the defendant not in the courtroom, the case against a Maricopa mother accused of abusing her children for social media attention continues in Superior Court.

Joshua Wallace, one of the attorneys for Machelle Hobson (aka Hackney), said a psychiatric exam showed she was not competent for trial and there is “no point in engaging a restoration service.”

Hobson, 48, and her family ran the now-deactivated YouTube channel “Fantastic Adventures,” which featured the children going through superhero training and visiting fantasy lands through special effects from their Villages home. The lucrative channel had more than 200 million video views and earned the family $10,000 to $30,000 per month.

Seven of her 10 children are adopted. Prosecutors say Hobson abused the children to get them to perform, allegedly depriving them of food and water, locking them in closets and using pepper spray. Hobson was indicted on 17 counts of child abuse and five counts of kidnapping.

She was released from jail in June, apparently based on her health condition. Maricopa Police initially also arrested her two oldest sons, but the Pinal County Attorney’s Office declined to press charges.

Wednesday, Wallace filed the report from a mental-health exam required by Rule 11. He said it would be months before Hobson could be prepared. The state asked for additional time to view the report.

Judge Delia Neal set a hearing for Aug. 28, allowing attorneys to participate telephonically. As Hobson has at least three other attorneys of record, Neal said finding court dates that fit everyone’s schedules was like “herding cats.”

Maricopa Police made an arrest Saturday evening after Miguel Figueroa Jr. allegedly pushed his grandmother and possessed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Maricopa Police were dispatched to a reported assault at a home on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. Upon arrival, police contacted Maria Figueroa, Miguel’s grandmother. Maria stated she got into an argument with Figueroa over her money being stolen by him.

Figueroa reportedly pushed his grandmother, causing her to fall and injure her left hand. This occurred the day prior, and police were able to observe Maria’s hand to be severely swollen.

Officers proceeded to locate Figueroa in a bathroom. After conducting a search of his person, police allegedly discovered a small plastic bag with a gram of methamphetamine as well as a smoking pipe containing meth residue.

Figueroa admitted to smoking the meth earlier in the day, according to the police report. While confirming he spoke with his grandmother about missing money, Figueroa denied the claim he stole her money or pushed her.

Miguel was placed under arrest on suspicion of possessing dangerous drugs and paraphernalia, as well as assault and vulnerable adult abuse. His father, Miguel Figueroa Sr., was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for the stabbing death of wife Olivia.

Four years later, Jose Valenzuela is pleading guilty in the murders of Michael and Tina Careccia.

With his life on the line, the accused murderer of a Maricopa couple has signed a plea agreement rather than go to trial.

Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, now 42, has been behind bars since the summer of 2015, charged with the homicides of husband-and-wife Tina and Michael Careccia. It was being prosecuted as a capital case and would have gone to trial Sept. 10. Had a jury found him guilty, he could have faced the death penalty.

The plea agreement, filed Monday, has Valenzuela pleading guilty to the first-degree murder of Tina Careccia and the second-degree murder of Michael Careccia. Both were shot to death.

In the plea agreement, Valenzuela agreed to a sentence of natural life for the first-degree murder. He also agreed to pay restitution of up to $150,000.

There is no agreement on the sentence for the charge of second-degree murder, though Valenzuela agreed to pay another fine for restitution of up to $150,000. In Arizona, second-degree murder has a sentence of 10-25 years, with a presumptive sentence of 16 years.

The original charge in the death of Michael Careccia was first-degree murder.

Formal sentencing is set for Aug. 13. Special Prosecutor Gary Husk said he would have no comment until sentencing.

The Careccia disappeared from their Hidden Valley home the evening of Father’s Day 2015. The family, community members and law enforcement searched the area by ground and air for weeks. Valenzuela was arrested as a person of interest July 1, and the bodies were uncovered that night in Valenzuela’s backyard, where they had been buried with a backhoe. At the time Valenzuela lived in a house belonging to his parents on Papago Road.

The case developed to include drugs, an eye-witness and a hidden car containing a victim’s blood.

The prosecution of the case became complicated when Kent Volkmer was elected county attorney. As a private attorney he had been involved in the Valenzuela case, so he had the entire department recused from prosecuting the case upon taking office in 2017. Instead, the case was sent to Navajo County, which assigned Husk to be special prosecutor.

In the subsequent months and years, the case has gone through changes in defense attorneys and judges, as well.

 

Jesus Escalante (PCSO)

A Maricopa man faces an assault charge after an arrest that involved both Maricopa and Ak-Chin police departments.

According to MPD, Jesus Escalante, 43, notified police Monday that Andrea Trujillo was staying at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Hotel and was abusing drugs. MPD contacted ACPD for a welfare check and was told the woman was there and “severely bruised.”

MPD spoke to Trujillo at the hotel. Officers described bruising to her chin, arm and shoulder. She claimed Escalante had assaulted her earlier in the day.

She said she and Escalante had argued Sunday at a residence on West Lococo Street about his feelings of being disrespected and she claimed he punched her in the mouth. A witness in the home told police she thought the incident occurred Saturday and said she did not see Escalante punch her friend because she left the room when they started arguing.

At some point, the two women left the Smith Farms residence to stay the night at the casino hotel. They returned to the home Monday morning, according to the report. They told police Escalante again became angry and chased Trujillo around with a dust pan.

They claimed Escalante grabbed Trujillo and pushed her against a wall and struck her with his elbows.

Escalante denied the accusations, claiming the alleged victim was known for hitting herself and was the aggressor.

MPD took Escalante into custody, noting he “showed no concern about being arrested and stated he just wants Andrea to get help.” He was booked at Pinal County jail on recommended charges of assault and disorderly conduct.

Kenneth Lewis (PCSO)

A man shot by a resident after being suspected of breaking into three Cobblestone Farms homes is undergoing a mental exam.

Kenneth Lewis, 43, had an order for a mental health expert examination (Rule 11) issued in June. Friday, his counsel was given time by Judge Jason Holmberg for the exam review, with a new hearing set for August. Lewis is free on a $5,000 bond.

In what became a community incident on Celtic Lane April 4, Lewis was tackled by a neighbor in the driveway of a home where he had just been shot. Police arrived and cuffed him before he was treated for his injury.

Lewis allegedly had entered Erik Keen’s home on Garden Lane and an empty home on Celtic Lane before trespassing at a third home, also on Celtic. There, he was shot in the shoulder by the 68-year-old resident and then was tackled by Keen in the driveway. Residents involved in the incident told responding police officers Lewis had been making statements that someone was following him or trying to harm him.

A Rule 11 screening determined there were grounds for a full mental examination. By state law, the court may request a defendant “be examined to determine the defendant’s competency to stand trial, to enter a plea or to assist the defendant’s attorney.”

Lewis is facing charges of criminal damage, trespassing and burglary.

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

A man accused of killing his grandmother may have an insanity option.

Marcos Jarrell Martinez, 23, is charged with the 2018 first-degree murder of Vicky Ten Hoven, 62. Martinez appeared in court Friday morning in a brown jumpsuit and shackles, his long hair loose down his back.

Judge Jason Holmberg accepted Dr. Joel Parker as an independent expert in the possibility of a “guilty but insane” stance. Parker is a forensic psychiatrist.

Earlier in the case, Judge Lawrence Wharton found Martinez competent to stand trial based on an Arizona State Hospital evaluation, but the Parker examination would be making a judgment on the defendant’s mental state at the time of Ten Hoven’s murder.

Last week, Holmberg signed an order for additional defense funds for the case because of the volume of records involved.

Martinez has a history of mental-health issues. A year before his grandmother’s murder, Martinez had been “involuntarily committed” at behavioral health and substance abuse treatment facility in Mesa.

According to Arizona law, “A person may be found guilty except insane if at the time of the commission of the criminal act the person was afflicted with a mental disease or defect of such severity that the person did not know the criminal act was wrong… A guilty except insane verdict is not a criminal conviction for sentencing enhancement purposes.”

Jan. 18, 2018, Ten Hoven’s husband found her deceased in a pool of blood on their kitchen floor. Though she had been stabbed several times, the cause of death was determined to be blunt-force trauma.

Martinez’s next hearing was set for September.

Jermaine Walker (PCSO)

Jermaine Walker, 38, was arrested Saturday by Maricopa Police for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.

Around 8 p.m., officers observed Walker driving a vehicle in Desert Passage. According to a Maricopa Police probable cause report, officers were aware Walker’s Arizona driving privileges were suspended for a prior DUI conviction as well as outstanding warrants by the Kyrene Justice Court.

After confirming warrants with police dispatch, officers contacted Walker in his driveway while he was still in the vehicle. Upon arresting Walker, police officers discovered a plastic bag that contained a “useable quantity” of marijuana in the vehicle’s center console, according to the police report.

Jermaine Walker received the additional charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and was booked into Pinal County jail.

Rayan Jarjes (PCSO)

A 43-year-old Lyft driver from Peoria who is accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in Maricopa had a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Rayan Jarjes is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court on Friday and remains in jail on a $100,000 bond.

In arresting him Sunday morning, Maricopa Police had suggested charges of sexual abuse, kidnapping and sexual assault. Pinal County Attorney’s Office has set the charges at three counts of sexual assault.

Jarjes’ LinkedIn account lists him as a chemist at a Glendale company. His wife was out of the country when the incident occurred.

According to the MPD report, the alleged victim had been drinking with several friends at a local bar before going to a friend’s house. However, she soon called for a Lyft driver to take her to her home nine miles away at around 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

She later told police Jarjes twice stopped the vehicle on the way and got into the back seat with her to force himself on her. She said he sexually assaulted her both while stopped and while he was driving after she tried to lie down to sleep. She said she also believed he took photos of her with his phone.

A friend of the alleged victim called MPD at around 4:25 a.m. Police took down a description of the driver and his vehicle. Reportedly matching both descriptions, Jarjes and his black Kia Optima were pulled over by MPD on Smith-Enke Road. Officers noted when he exited the vehicle his pants were not zipped.

Jarjes was arrested at 5:21 a.m. and his vehicle and cell phone were seized by MPD as evidence. He was interviewed at the department around 9:30 a.m. According to MPD, he initially denied the woman’s allegations but then confirmed sexual contact. However, he claimed it was her idea and said she threatened to call the police if he did not comply.

Jarjes’ previous court record in Arizona is a speeding ticket. According to the MPD report, he has driven for Lyft seven years. MPD described him as a flight risk because he is “a recent immigrant from Iraq” and his wife and children were visiting in Syria at the time of his arrest.

A Maricopa man was cited June 24 on suspicion of aggravated assault and child abuse.

It began around 10 p.m. when Nathaniel Clark had called the police and claimed his stepdaughter was kicked out of the home for taking his keys to the house without permission.

“While clearing from the scene MPD was approached by several juveniles,” according to the police report. They reported Clark possibly assaulted his stepson. The juveniles stated the stepson was FaceTiming a friend, and his face was actively bleeding.

Police made contact with the boy and were able to see a red mark on his upper lip. According to the stepson, Clark assaulted him with the bottom half of a pool cue and proceeded to hit him multiple times. Several more marks were shown to the MPD officers on the stepson’s chest and back. Officers concluded the marks, as well as actively bleeding spots on the boy’s left calf, were consistent with assault.

Nathaniel Clark’s stepdaughter, whom he initially called the police on, arrived to the scene in search of her brother. According to the officer’s report, the girl, “appeared to have a distinct limp on her left leg indicating an injury.”

She stated she was in the same altercation with Clark and the pool cue, showing officers an inch-wide red mark on her left leg, which had become swollen. The stepson added that his sister was then thrown outside by Clark after they were both assaulted with the pool cue.

Clark denied assaulting either of his stepchildren, and stated he only gestured with the pool cue for them to find his missing keys.

MPD suggested two counts of aggravated assault and child abuse for Clark.

Amy Ragsdale and Jason Bowman (PCSO)

 

A stolen vehicle led to the arrest of two people on drug charges at QuikTrip on Thursday just after 12:30 in the morning.

Maricopa Police officers spoke to Jason Bowman, 25, at the gas station and Amy Ragsdale, 28, as she sat in the passenger seat of a Toyota Tacoma that had been reported stolen out of Tucson. Both allegedly admitted to officers they knew the pickup truck was stolen.

During Ragsdale’s arrest, officers reportedly found a small, plastic baggy “within her immediate reach” that field tested positive for methamphetamine and heroin. They also alleged she claimed ownership of a Calvin Klein bag that contained a glass pipe with burned residue “commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.”

Also in the vehicle, officers reportedly found foil with burnt residue “commonly used to smoke heroin.”

Bowman and Ragsdale were booked into Pinal County Adult Detention. Both are initially charged with theft of transportation, possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ragsdale is additionally charged with possession of narcotic drugs.

Isaac Guerrero (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was arrested by Maricopa Police Department Friday after allegedly spray-painting the car wash at Circle K. Police believe the culprit graffitied several other businesses in the vicinity.

The main suspect told police he was too intoxicated to remember.

A security camera at the 21212 N. John Wayne Parkway convenience store had footage of two people entering the car wash just before midnight Thursday night. The two individuals used spray paint to create graffiti on the walls of the car wash.

Officers identified one as Isaac Guerrero, 20, who had an outstanding warrant.

Friday morning, two officers found Guerrero at his residence on West Alamendras Street in Acacia Crossings, west of the Circle K, and arrested him on a warrant.

Officers noted similar graffiti on the walls of Dignity Health, True Grit Tavern, EarthWise Pet Supply and Dickey’s BBQ as well as Acacia Crossings subdivision walls. Damage is estimated between $2,000 and $10,000.

According to the report, Guerrero told police he had no memory of the night because he was intoxicated but said one of the graffiti pictures was his. He said he did not know the person with him.

Guerrero was booked a Pinal County Adult Detention on the warrant and suspicion of criminal damage.

Marc Garcia (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend while she was driving. Marc Garcia, 36, was arrested June 12 on suspicion of an assault around 7 p.m. Garcia’s girlfriend stated that while she was driving, he became upset and angry during an argument and shoved her head against the B pillar of the car.

“While Marc had her head pinned, he bit her right hand,” the report states.

The girlfriend then pulled into a nearby parking lot on Edison Road, where Garcia proceeded to get out of the vehicle and left.

According to the police report, Garcia’s girlfriend delayed in calling the police until around 9 p.m. the same night due to her fear of him returning to their home where her six children live. Police reportedly observed the bruises and bite marks on the victim’s arm and hand respectively.

Garcia was then interviewed and later arrested at approximately 11:30 p.m.

He was also allegedly found to be on parole as of mid-April and was taken to Pinal County Jail.

 

You should never leave your pet unattended in a hot car. In the case of Luis O. Perez, especially not when you have outstanding warrants.

Maricopa Police responded to a call Saturday around 4:25 p.m. from a concerned citizen who reported a dog left in a car in the Walmart parking lot. When police arrived, Perez and his wife came out of Walmart and confirmed the vehicle and the dog were theirs.

According to the police report, Perez’s wife allegedly provided his name and date of birth to police. After a wants-and-warrants check was performed, officers discovered outstanding warrants from West Mesa Justice Precinct, with a bond of $500.

The report stated, “Dispatch confirmed the warrant was valid. Luis’ identity was confirmed using descriptors on the warrant.”

Perez was booked into the Pinal County Jail.

Warren Evans and Robin Fuller were arrested together. PCSO

A K-9 led to the arrest of two people Monday in Cobblestone Farms.

Warren Evans, 52, and Robin Fuller, 45, were booked on possession of meth, drug paraphernalia, tampering with evidence, and misconduct involving weapons.

Maricopa police conducted a traffic stop at the corner of Cobblestone Farms and Greenland Park Drive at around 2 a.m. According to a police probable cause statement, the officer stopped a ‘97 Toyota Camry with the driver being identified as Evans, who claimed his first name was “James.” Fuller was identified as the front seat passenger.

The officer wrote that “the driver of the vehicle continued to look away from me as I spoke with him and was acting uneasy.”

Based on this behavior, the officer deployed a K-9 officer, who gave a positive alert. Evans then allegedly informed officers meth was located in the glove compartment. Upon further investigation, officers also found a zippered pouch with 2 grams of meth, a glass pipe, syringes, alcohol wipes and a spoon with a cotton ball stuck to it, according to the report.

Fuller allegedly admitted to stuffing empty baggies under the front passenger seat in an effort to conceal it from officers. Police also discovered a revolver-style firearm along with a radio scanner, binoculars and five cellphones with a bag of SIM cards.

Police learned of Evans’ real first name and found him possessing felony warrants in Pinal County and Graham County. Warren and Fuller were both placed under arrest on charges for being a prohibited possessor of the firearm and possession of dangerous drugs and paraphernalia. Both were later booked in Pinal County Jail.