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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.

Dustin Meyer (PCSO photo)

A 22-year-old man was booked on suspicion of aggravated assault after being accused of choking his girlfriend three times.

Maricopa Police were called to the home on West Cowpath Drive at around 1 a.m. Tuesday. There, a woman told officers Dustin Meyer had tried to strangle her after an argument.

Meyer stated he was attacked first and was trying to defend himself.

The woman told police they got into an argument after Meyer refused to leave the house. She said the argument ended up in her bedroom with Meyer pinning her down on the bed while putting both of his hands around her throat. She said he choked her three times and she could not breathe.

According to the report, she used a key to defend herself, “digging her key into multiple locations of Dustin’s body.”

The woman reported diminished hearing in her left ear and a headache. Police noted abrasions on Meyer.

Police took Meyer into custody on an anticipated charge of aggravated assault per domestic violence.

Matthew Padzunas (PCSO)

Matthew Padzunas, 38, was arrested and jailed June 5 after he allegedly threw water on his wife.

He was arrested shortly before 8 p.m. at the couple’s home on West Windrose Drive when officers responded to a complaint about a possible domestic altercation.

“Officers arrived on scene and made contact with Matthew (Padzunas) and his wife at the front door,” a Maricopa Police officer wrote in their probable cause statement. “Upon initially speaking to her, I observed her to be covered in water on her head and her shirt.”

She told officers they were involved in a verbal argument about him wanting her to move out for good. Padzunas told police they were arguing about bills and other things.

“When she stopped talking to him and would not answer him, he threw water on her from a bottle in the kitchen,” the police report reads. “Matthew advised he did this because it was sort of a ‘wake up call’ so she would answer him and not ignore him.”

The report states he was placed under arrest in the couple’s front yard without incident on an initial charge of disorderly conduct.

Padzunas was in Pinal County Jail for two days. According to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, no complaint was filed against Padzunas in 48 hours, and he was released.

Kathryn Sinkevitch was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole for the murder of Michael Agerter at his rental home on Sagebrush Trail in Rancho El Dorado Dec. 16, 2016.

Kathryn Sinkevitch will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Thursday, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White handed down a “natural life” in prison sentence to Sinkevitch after she was convicted May 7 of the first-degree murder of Michael Agerter on Dec. 16, 2016.

With a sentence of natural life in prison, she is not eligible for commutation, parole, work furlough, work release or release from confinement on any basis.

It is one of the harshest penalties in the State of Arizona, second only to the death penalty.

Agerter, her ex-boyfriend, was shot and killed in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado. The two lived separately but had an infant son together.

Prosecutors maintain the murder occurred because Sinkevitch did not want to share custody of the child with Agerter and the two were involved in a court battle, including DNA testing. Agerter, 31, was murdered just hours after submitting DNA samples at LabCorp.

After a little more than a day of deliberations, the jury handed down its decision.

Sinkevitch, 35, appeared for her sentencing Thursday morning wearing a maroon jail uniform, with her long blond hair down and pulled back in a pony tail.

The victim’s mother and father, who live in Ohio, spoke to the court before her sentence was announced.

Michael’s father, Mark Agerter, said the murder of his son was one of the most cowardly acts he has seen in his 60 years on the planet.

“For 35 years, I have taught and coached high school kids and had many opportunities to speak. I have prepared a script though it will not be as eloquent or as colorful in vocabulary as he (Michael) might have done,” Mark said.

He said that since Sinkevitch was found guilty on May 7, many people have “congratulated” him on the verdict. He said the word congratulations is not the right word for the situation. He said Sinkevitch’s actions may not have created a circumstance where there could be a winner.

“The end of Mike’s life did not fit the type of person that he ever was,” his father said. “A few days following (his murder), there were comments on social media from Ms. Sinkevitch’s family members that Mike got exactly what he deserved. This is very disconcerting and did not come from someone who knew Mike.”

He said he has never found anyone who knew Michael that would describe his son in any other way than as a true and sincere person.

As his father spoke, Sinkevitch just sat silently and stared at the back of his head.

“There was absolutely no reason that the events that occurred on Dec. 16, 2016, should have ever happened,” Mark Agerter said. “Mike, from a young age, tended not to be fearful of anything. It showed in everything he did from climbing trees that were too tall as a kid to his efforts playing college football.”

Two armed, female sheriff’s office guards stood very close to Sinkevitch as Agerter spoke.

“Mike truly wanted things to be right for his son,” he said. “After all, he loved children. Unfortunately, he was never allowed to meet his son. There is a reason that we must have prisons. Someone who would act in a very unconscionable and cowardly manner to take a life, like the one taken in that garage in Maricopa, Arizona, on Dec. 16, 2016, must not have the freedom to make that decision ever again.”

He thanked the Pinal County prosecutors in the case, led by Shawn Jensvold and David Ahl and Christine Forbes. He also thanked the Maricopa Police Department for all their hard work.

“Kathryn Sinkevitch may have chosen to take Mike’s life, but she will never kill his spirit. His spirit lives on forever. His family will be sure that the little boy that we call Christopher will be the most loved little boy on the planet,” Mark said referring to his grandson, of whom Michael’s parents have custody.

Michael’s mother, Leslie Agerter, also addressed the court.

She told White about her murdered son and his relationships to his siblings

She spoke about her son’s deep relationship with siblings and family. She talked about her son’s many selfless acts of kindness to family, friends and total strangers.

She also spoke about how her daughter was on the phone with Michael when he was murdered.

“She was his friend but most of all he was her big brother,” Leslie said. “She listened to Michael utter his final words and take his dying breath after Sinkevitch ambushed him in his garage.”

She said no one is perfect and Mike was no exception.

“He may not have been perfect, but he was a gentleman,” she said. “At the first incident of violence against him, he should have been out the door. Instead he stayed. He gave me a whole laundry list of reasons why he shouldn’t leave the relationship. They all revolved around her, and him wanting to make sure she could take care of herself.”

Leslie Agerter said at first her son wouldn’t leave Sinkevitch because she didn’t have a job and he was worried she couldn’t support herself. After she got a job, she said Michael stayed in the relationship to make sure she could get to work because she didn’t have transportation.

She said Sinkevitch used her son’s car to get back and forth to work while he stayed home and worked.

“And finally, when he thought she could be self-sufficient, and he was ready to leave, she became pregnant,” she said. “We are left to raise our son’s son. We decided to call him Christopher in honor of one of Mike’s longest valued friendships. Her rights as a parent have been legally terminated. My son is gone. How are we to explain to his son her actions when he is old enough to understand? I hope I am strong enough and given the wisdom when that inevitable day arrives.”

Both the prosecutors and defense attorney Bret Huggins agreed there is little choice but to give Sinkevitch a natural life sentence.

Huggins told the court he had already filed an appeal and asked to be withdrawn as defense council for Sinkevitch. He asked the court to appoint another defense attorney to handle the case in the future.

White asked Sinkevitch to stand and asked if she had anything to say to the court and she only replied, “No.”

The judge then sentenced her to serve the rest of her natural life in prison with credit for already serving 896 days in custody.

A Curious Coincidence

Leslie Agerter said there is an ironic twist to the murder of her son, something she learned after Sinkevitch was convicted of the murder.

“In a roundabout way it brings everything full circle,” she said. “In December of 1984, Mark and I drove his sister to her new home in Houston, Texas. We decided to attend the Blue Bonnet Bowl between TCU and West Virginia. We watched the West Virginia quarterback lead his team to an astounding victory. On that same trip, I discovered I was pregnant with Michael and here today, 34 years later, we stand before that same quarterback who now presides over the state’s astounding victory over Sinkevitch.”

The quarterback of West Virginia at the Blue Bonnet Bowl in 1984 was Judge Kevin White.

 

Devin Hardman was arrested by Maricopa Police for possession of a narcotic drug, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia after an officer stopped to assist him on May 29 at 1:22 a.m.

In a police probable cause statement, the officer wrote, “I observed a vehicle with its lights on stopped on the side of the road near Wolf Drive and Powers Boulevard. I parked my patrol vehicle behind the white and color vehicle … and conducted a welfare check. I observed four occupants inside the vehicle. As I approached the vehicle I observed smoke coming out of the driver’s side window.”

The officer approached the vehicle and identified Hardman as the driver.

“At this time, a strong odor of burnt marijuana was emanating from inside the vehicle,” the officer wrote in the report.

After asking all occupants of the vehicle if they had a medical marijuana card, Hardman was read his Miranda rights and allegedly disclosed there was marijuana inside the vehicle and that all four of them were smoking it, according to the report.

Hardman said the marijuana belonged to him.

Wayne Edwards was arrested by Maricopa Police on charges of aggravated domestic violence assault, aggravated domestic violence and assault May 31 about 4 p.m.

According to a Maricopa Police probable cause statement, about 5:41 p.m. police responded to a residence on West Cydnee Drive about an assault.

A woman reported that her husband, Edwards, attacked her while attempting to get her car keys. Though Edwards denied it, the woman had an injured right wrist according to the police report. She also participated in a sexual assault examination performed by a nurse.

Police discovered Edwards had previously been arrested on domestic violence charges six separate times in the past 84 months.

Elisia Uglade (PCSO)

A woman was charged with possession of a dangerous drug (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia May 29 during a traffic stop by Maricopa Police about 4 p.m.

According to a police probable cause statement, two officers stopped a silver Chrysler minivan for a civil traffic violation in the AutoZone parking lot on North John Wayne Parkway. Elisia Ugalde, 33, was identified as the driver of the vehicle based on her Ak-Chin Tribal Identification Card.

An officer located a small clear baggie which contained methamphetamine inside her bra, according to the police report. Ugalde told police she took it from another passenger inside the vehicle, so he would not get into trouble.

She was transported and booked into the Pinal County Jail.

During a search of the vehicle, police found Edgar Espinoza lying in the rear portion of the van. Espinoza was wanted on a warrant out of the Western Pinal Justice Court with a bond of $500 required. He was placed into handcuffs.

During a later search police found tinfoil in his front left pants pockets with evidence of a black burnt residue consistent with smoking methamphetamine. Officers also found a glass pipe in the vehicle they believe was used for smoking methamphetamine.

Espinoza, 26, was booked into the Pinal County Jail on the warrant and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Arthur Eric Magana (PCSO photo)

It will most likely be months before convicted murderer Arthur Magana, 19, will be sent to prison.

Monday at a hearing in Superior Court, defense attorney David Gregan asked for a status review to be scheduled three months from now. This leaves Magana in the custody of the Pinal County Jail and not in the state prison system.

Magana was found guilty of killing 20-year-old Wyatt Miller. Magana’s friend Gustavo Olivo accepted a plea arrangement in November that resulted in a 25-year sentence.

In a trial, Magana was convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 19 after the jury heard evidence of how he shot Miller 11 times in the back of the head and neck on Nov. 7, 2016. The jury also found Magana guilty of armed robbery as Miller was killed during the theft of four ounces of marijuana.

Magana is accused of killing Miller inside his truck in a rural area of Maricopa, according to court testimony. Magana was just 16 years old at the time but is charged as an adult because it is a felony, which investigators called an assassination of Miller.

Magana was wearing a Pinal County Jail blue prison uniform in court Monday.

When Judge Kevin White asked if Magana’s case would be set for a sentencing hearing soon, Gregan said the defense, “was not even close” to a date.

As the prosecutor did not object, White set the matter for a status review on Sept. 9, at 1:30 p.m.

Kenneth Lewis (PCSO)

May 23, charges against a suspected home invader were enhanced due to aggravating factors.

Kenneth Lewis, 43, was shot by a Maricopa homeowner after he allegedly broke into three houses April 4 in the Cobblestone Farms subdivision. The residents of two of the three houses were home at the time.

Aggravating factors listed by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office include “the taking or damage to property in an amount sufficient to be an aggravating circumstance, physical, emotional or financial harm to a victim and at least one of the victims was 65 or older or a disabled person.”

Initial charges against Lewis were criminal damage (recklessly defacing or damaging property of another person) and three counts of second-degree burglary.

Lewis was shot in the shoulder after allegedly breaking into the third house.

One of the victims from the first house Lewis allegedly broke into, Erik Keen, stopped Lewis after he was shot and exiting the third house. He held him on the driveway of the house where Lewis was shot until police arrived.

Maricopa Police released video footage of two police officer body cameras when they arrived at the scene late last week. Some images may be disturbing.

The homeowner shot at Lewis twice, hitting him once. The homeowner was not charged for the shooting, as police believe it was self-defense.

Lewis remains in the Pinal County Jail on a $5,000 bond and will be back in court June 7 for a pretrial conference.

 

Gregory Flood Jr. (PCSO)

 

Those carrying marijuana might want to re-think calling the police for a ride across town, especially if wanted on warrants.

On foot along North Porter Road about 10 minutes before 11 p.m. on Saturday, a man identifying himself as Sean Stevens called the Maricopa Police and said he was “being chased by unknown suspects.”

Upon arrival, a Maricopa Police officer spoke to the man, who again said his name was Sean, “and advised me he was being chased by two unknown people, with an unknown description. Sean requested a courtesy ride to his residence on West Hayden Drive,” according to a police report.

“I provided Sean a courtesy ride to his residence and knocked on the front door,” the police officer wrote in a probable cause statement. “I made contact with a resident, who advised me no one by the name of Sean Stevens lived at the residence.”

The resident came to the police car and identified “so-called Sean” as Gregory Flood Jr.

Flood was wanted on two warrants from Maricopa Municipal Court with bond amounts of $817 and $458. As Flood was placed under arrest, the police officer searched him and located a green “Traffic” cigarette box in his possession, according to the probable cause statement.

“I recognized the odor of marijuana emanating from this box, so I searched the box and found what I recognized as a joint containing a green leafy substance,” the officer wrote.

Flood allegedly admitted to officers it was marijuana. Tests proved it was, according to police reports. Flood was arrested and booked into the Pinal County Jail on the warrants and one count of possession of marijuana.

 

Rashawn Grady (PCSO)

Rashawn Grady, 23, is accused of taking a child’s belt after threatening him with a concealed handgun on May 25.

He is held in the Pinal County Jail on a $100,500 bond and charged with armed robbery and shoplifting.

According to a Maricopa Police probable cause statement, two juveniles reported being victims of an armed robbery on North John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“The juveniles stated the suspect, later identified as Rashawn (Grady), pulled up next to them and asked if they wanted any weed,” a police officer wrote in their report. “They said they told Rashawn no and Rashawn then got out of the vehicle and told (name redacted) to give him his belt.”

The report described the vehicle as being “in traffic” when the driver stopped and got out of the car to approach the juveniles. According to the report, three witnesses then saw Grady lift his shirt and expose a concealed handgun in his waistband. They said Grady took the belt and drove away.

The minors, whose ages are not given, were able to give police a description of the man and the car he was driving, an older silver Nissan Altima. Grady was located at Bashas’ grocery store based on their description.

During an interview with police, Grady was initially inconsistent about the encounter, according to the report, but eventually admitted to having contact with the juveniles.

“Rashawn said he did not rob the juvenile,” the police officer wrote in their report. “Rashawn said the juvenile was a ‘b—h’ and gave him the belt when he asked. Rashawn would not admit to having a gun and would redirect the question when asked.”

Also, when police contacted Grady at Bashas’, he was found to have taken a full cart of groceries from the store without paying for them, leading to the shoplifting charge.

He was arrested and taken to the Pinal County Jail for booking. He was also wanted on a felony warrant out of Maricopa County with a $500 bond amount.

Dontai Sweat (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was charged with misconduct involving weapons May 24 when Maricopa Police found a knife on him after he stated he did not have any weapons during a traffic stop.

On May 24, Dontai Sweat, 33, reported to family members that “he was being chased by the mafia,” according to a police probable cause statement. Prior to the arrival of the police, dispatch ran a wants-and-warrants check, finding he was wanted on a warrant out of Casa Grande with a $200 bond. He also had a suspended driver’s license.

When police arrived, they saw Sweat drive away from the scene and located him a short time later at the intersection of Van Loo and Kennedy Court in Rancho El Dorado.

He initially refused to exit the vehicle when directed by police, according to the report, and officers asked him if he had weapons. He said he did not.

After he consented to a search, police allegedly found “a fixed blade knife, approximately 4 inches in length, in his front left pants pocket.”

He was placed under arrest for misconduct involving weapons as well as the warrant out of Casa Grande. He was later booked into Pinal County Jail.

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

 

A Maricopa couple accused of 10 counts of child abuse appeared in Pinal County Superior Court Friday and hinted at a change of plea.

Veronica and Corey Masterson were indicted by a grand jury on three counts of child abuse in December. Since then prosecutors have upped the charges to 10 counts.

Friday, defense attorney Cody Weagant asked the court for a continuance of the case for 60 days, so they might enter into a settlement conference with prosecutors and possibly a plea arrangement. He asked the court to schedule a change of plea conference on Friday July 19 at 9 a.m.

According to the police probable-cause statement in Veronica Masterson’s case, three children were removed from the couple’s home. During an interview with Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), one of the children said, “When my dad wants us to shut up, he ties a rubber band around our head and then tapes our mouths shut. They’re always hitting us, and my mom kicks us.”

The child told investigators her parents smoked cigarettes and “something else” that she described as white. When asked by DCS investigators about the father, she said, “I don’t like him. He is so mean to us. He is always hitting us and tells us to shut up. He ignores us and doesn’t want us to talk.”

The girl also told investigators when she was grounded, she was not allowed food or water and she hid a water bottle in her backpack. After talking to investigators, she pleaded with them not to tell her parents what she said as she didn’t want the water bottle taken away, according to police documents.

“They don’t feed us, and we get super starving,” one of the children told investigators.

In the probable-cause statement, the DCS also informed Maricopa Police the mother is currently pregnant, and both parents failed to consent to drug testing.

Other allegations included spankings with paddles and belts and the older children being forced to take care of the younger children while the parents were out all night “doing bad stuff,” according to the probable cause statement.

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

The father, Corey Masterson, 36, was taken to the sheriff’s office adult detention center Dec. 19, the day of the indictments against him and his wife. At the time of his wife’s arrest a week earlier, he had been taken to a Casa Grande hospital complaining of kidney stones.

 

On Saturday afternoon Rudolph Simarro was arrested by Maricopa Police for Driving under the influence of alcohol and domestic violence disorderly conduct.

“Rudolph (Simarro) was stopped for failing to stop for the stop sign coming from McCord Drive onto Duncan Drive,” an officer wrote in their probable cause statement. “As I was speaking with Rudolph, a reporting party called Maricopa Police and reported a vehicle matching the description of Rudolph’s vehicle was seen driving erratically on West Neely Drive.”

Simarro told officers he had been in a verbal argument with his daughter and an officer noticed he had scratches on his arm. He told police they were from a brush with a bush.

The officer asked him to step out of the vehicle and noticed a strong odor of alcohol. Simarro allegedly told police he had two beers.

A field test was conducted, and officers observed two indicators of impairment.

While tests were taking place on Simarro, another team of officers went to where his daughter was located on West Neely Drive.

She told police Simarro was driving erratically up and down Neely Drive and left skid marks on the roadway and curb.

She said that he tried to get into the house, but she wouldn’t let him in “due to him misbehaving due to being drunk.”

She told police he had been staying at her house for the past month and that he attempted to break into the house when she wouldn’t let him inside, eventually getting in and physically fighting with her, her mother and a brother.

She said Simarro left once but returned, “to collect his items but got into physical altercations again.”

Simarro was arrested and charged with DUI with a blood alcohol content in excess of 0.08 and domestic violence disorderly conduct.

Shortly after midnight on May 12, Maricopa Police contacted Nathan Dickerson and his girlfriend sitting in a vehicle near Rosa Drive and Miranda Way.

An officer asked Dickerson if he had any alcohol in the vehicle.

“Nathan (Dickerson) stated, ‘No,’ and then he reached in his pocket and gave officers a small baggie of cocaine,” an MPD probable cause statement reads. “Nathan, a short time later, disclosed that there was a plate and rolled-up dollar bill with cocaine on them. A search of the pickup truck was done and a white plate with a white powdery substance on it and a rolled bill nearby with white residue on it. Field testing was completed and showed positive for cocaine.”

Dickerson was charged with suspicion of possession of a dangerous drug, cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to MPD, and released at the scene.

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Michael Dematteo, 37, was arrested by Maricopa Police Monday on suspicion of having dangerous drugs, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

About 2 p.m. a Maricopa Police officer was on patrol near Meghan Drive and Arizona Avenue when they identified a green van travelling at a high rate of speed. The officer attempted to get behind the van to run a license registration and “as soon as I pulled behind the vehicle it sped up and ran the stop sign,” the officer wrote in a probable cause statement.

The van stopped when the officer engaged their vehicle’s emergency lights.

Dematteo was identified as the driver of the van. He was wanted on a City of Maricopa warrant with a $500 bond.

During a search, officers allegedly located a broken pipe that appeared to be a methamphetamine pipe. A white substance was identified inside the pipe which later tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the report.

He was arrested and booked into the Pinal County Jail. He remains there pending the posting of a $2,500 secured bond and a $200 cash only bond.

Anthony Moore (PCSO photo)

Anthony Moore, 21, of Maricopa, wanted to fight the employees of a fast-food restaurant Monday morning but he went to jail instead.

According to a Maricopa Police probable cause report, the manager of the McDonald’s restaurant on North John Wayne Parkway called police just before 10 a.m. The manager said there was a disruptive man in the restaurant who was trying to fight with employees.

“Once the male exited the store, the male grabbed a rock and threw it at the entrance door, shattering the door,” an officer wrote in the report.

One of the employees said the man who threw the rock was her ex-boyfriend. Employees said the man was yelling, “F— you, I am a gangster; you are afraid to call the police.”

The employees also told police the man was the driver of a black Lexus that was registered to Moore, who lived on West Alamendras in Maricopa. Officers located Moore at his home and promptly secured him in the back seat of a patrol car.

“During the ride back to the station, Anthony (Moore) stated, ‘I didn’t know the rock would break the glass.’ Once back at the police station, I asked Anthony if he was cursing at employees. Anthony stated he does not curse or get mad, he gets ‘paper.’ I asked what that meant, Anthony says he gets paid,” the report reads.

Moore was charged with criminal damage, disorderly conduct and driving while suspended. He was booked into the Pinal County Jail.

Michael Johnson (PCSO photo)

 

Michael L. Johnson was arrested by Maricopa Police Friday morning after he allegedly bit his girlfriend during an altercation.

According to an MPD report, a verbal argument was going on between Johnson and his live-in girlfriend at 4 a.m. on the backyard patio of their residence on West Cydnee Drive.

“During the argument, Michael (Johnson) took her LG cellphone from her hands,” the probable cause report reads.

She attempted to get the phone back, and a physical altercation began.

“During the physical altercation, Michael bit her on her left arm near elbow, causing minor redness in the shape of a bite mark,” the report reads.

She told officers after the physical altercation, Johnson threw her phone on the ground and broke the screen. Johnson told officers the phone accidently fell during their physical altercation.

“Michael stated he took the phone because it’s the only thing he has control over her with,” the report reads

Johnson was booked into the Pinal County Jail.

Family thanks all who helped in 'two-year ordeal'

Kathryn Sinkevitch was convicted of murder Tuesday after a day of jury deliberations.

Despite defense attorney Bret Huggins claims, prosecutors do not believe there are grounds to appeal the conviction of  Kathryn Sinkevitch.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict because it is entirely consistent with the evidence presented at trial,” Pinal County Attorney’s Office Major Crimes Bureau Chief Shawn Jensvold said after  Sinkevitch was found guilty of first-degree murder this week.

Immediately after the verdict on Tuesday, Sinkevitch’s counsel made it clear they intend to appeal.

A jury convicted 34-year-old Sinkevitch in the 2016 death of Michael Agerter in Maricopa. Jensvold and Deputy County Attorney David Ahl led the prosecution.

“The evidence, which was both direct and circumstantial, pointed directly to Sinkevitch, and there is no reason to suspect that anyone else killed Michael,” Jensvold said.

The Agerter family released a statement through the Pinal County Attorney’s Office:

“On behalf of Mike’s friends and family, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone involved in achieving this verdict. From the first officer on site that continuously talked to Mike even though it was clear he was gone, through the ranks to Detective [Michael] Dennison, Deputy County Attorneys David Ahl and Shawn Jensvold, we thank you. The behind-the-scenes effort, work and support given by Paralegal Christine Forbes and Victim Advocate Sonia Campos were incredibly invaluable to our family throughout this two-year ordeal. The team spent countless hours away from their families so ours would finally attain peace. Also, to the jurors who were tasked with making the painful decision of enacting justice for Mike. He took every legal precaution to protect himself and was trying to do the same for his child. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. Mike’s attempt to protect the child he never met escalated her aggression towards him, ultimately leading to his death.”

On Dec. 16, 2016, the City of Maricopa Police Department received multiple 911 calls of shots fired at a home on Sagebrush Trail in Rancho El Dorado. When police arrived on scene they discovered 31-year-old Agerter shot in the head and back. Agerter was seated in his car, parked in his garage.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police soon discovered Agerter was on the phone with his younger sister at the time he was murdered.

Agerter had a home surveillance system at his residence. After watching some recorded footage, detectives saw what appeared to be a female subject walking quickly from a white minivan parked diagonally across the street from Agerter’s house just after he pulled into his garage.

The subject was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and shoes, gloves and carrying papers in one hand with a bag draped over her shoulder. The subject was outside the views of the cameras briefly, then reappeared and scurried back across the street to the white minivan and sped away. Police ran a background check on Agerter and discovered that he had been in several legal disputes with Sinkevitch.

Agerter and Sinkevitch were romantically involved until they broke up in March 2016. In April 2016, Agerter was granted an order of protection in Maricopa County Superior Court against Sinkevitch. Records show Agerter made efforts to conceal his new address from Sinkevitch. Police also discovered Agerter filed a motion to establish paternity and requested parenting time with his and Sinkevitch’s son, who was born in October.

Agerter never saw his son before he was murdered, and the paternity results later confirmed he was the boy’s father.

During the investigation, police tracked Sinkevitch to a residence belonging to her friend and co-worker. Sinkevitch’s gray Mitsubishi Mirage and her co-worker’s white Chrysler Town and Country were parked outside the residence.

The van appeared identical to the van seen on Agerter’s home surveillance system.

Sinkevitch’s co-worker denied driving to Maricopa during the afternoon of Agerter’s murder. Sinkevitch claimed she was at work all day. However, upon reviewing workplace surveillance video, detectives discovered Sinkevitch had left in the middle of the day.

Police confirmed Sinkevitch had ample time to drive to Agerter’s house, commit the murder and return to work. Police arrested Sinkevitch in Avondale on Dec. 21, 2016, after receiving a tip. Witnesses told police Sinkevitch owned a handgun, but a gun was never located.

“We agree with defense counsel’s assessment that the defendant received a fair trial. As reflected by the fact that they deliberated over two days before returning a verdict, it is clear that the jurors took their responsibilities very seriously. However, we disagree that any legal errors were committed during the trial that are likely to result in the defendant’s conviction being overturned on appeal,” Jensvold said.

Sinkevitch will be sentenced on June 6, at the Pinal County Superior Courthouse. With capital punishment off the table, at that time she will receive a natural life sentence.