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Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

Monday the jury heard closing arguments and received instructions in the murder trial of Kathryn Sinkevitch at Pinal County Superior Court.

Sinkevitch is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 31-year-old Michael Agerter on Dec. 16, 2016. 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 was 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 was murdered just hours after submitting DNA samples at Labcore.

“The defense wants you to believe it could have been anyone who have committed this murder,” prosecutor Shawn Jensvold told the jury. “The person who executed Michael would have known that he was coming home that afternoon. That person also must have had some severe hatred of Michael. Execution, that’s what happened. It doesn’t make sense that it was just anyone who did this.”

Jensvold said Sinkevitch intended to kill Agerter. “That is the essence of first-degree murder.”

He said it wasn’t just one piece of evidence in this case that showed guilt but a culmination of evidence.

Jensvold discussed motive and Agerter’s unwillingness to be a part of his son’s life in the beginning but later changing his mind.

Agerter even filed for custody, and this angered Sinkevitch, according to Jensvold.

“She was so consumed with hatred for Michael … She decided murder was her only option,” Jensvold said.

The prosecutor also discussed opportunity and knowledge. He said Sinkevitch knew Agerter was to undergo DNA testing and also knew his appointment was at 1:30 p.m. that day. She left from work to murder him just an hour after receiving information about when his DNA tests were to be done, according to Jensvold.

He discussed Sinkevitch’s plan to commit the murder, saying that was why she didn’t use her work identification badge to open doors that day and used a friend’s vehicle to commit the murder.

“Why was Kathryn so careless?” Jensvold asked the jury. “How reasonable was Kathryn’s mindset at this time? The bitterness stayed with Kathryn, and she wasn’t thinking clearly.  A reasonable rational person doesn’t commit murder in the first place. He (Agerter) didn’t want her to know where he lived, and she hired a private investigator to get that information.”

He discussed DNA, soil sample and gunshot residue tests that were inconclusive.

He said the person on video at Agerter’s house was similar in stature to Sinkevitch, and the van in the video was also similar to the one Sinkevitch used that day.

Jensvold said Sinkevitch lied about what she did the day of the murder and said she didn’t take a lunch. She clearly is seen on camera leaving work that day for about three hours.

“Consider all the evidence in light of reason, common sense and experience,” Jensvold told the jury. “This can’t just be anyone. The real question is to flip it around – who else could it be besides the defendant? Who else had the motive? No one that we know of. None of the evidence has suggested that in any way. Who else had the opportunity? Who else knew specifically where Michael was going to be after returning from Labcore at 1:30? Who else would be so consumed with their hatred of Michael and self-absorbed to the point that they were willing to execute Michael and leave his family with a picture like this that they have to remember him by?”

He said normal people participate in the legal process when they have a custody problem like this.

“You don’t just go out and execute them in their garage,” Jensvold said in closing.

The defense then had their turn at closing arguments.

“This case is a circumstantial case. There is no direct evidence. There is no direct witness against Kathryn Sinkevitch,” defense attorney Bret Huggins said in his closing arguments.

Huggins said DNA is the gold standard of evidence and two DNA experts testified Sinkevitch’s DNA was not found anywhere on any evidence in the entire case.

Huggins said investigators never tested the van for gunshot residue, only two pieces of clothing that were in the van and only three microns of gunshot residue were found. A micro is 1/20 the size of a human hair he said.

Huggins said the state clearly has not proven their case against Sinkevitch.

The DNA that was found on a hair in the van didn’t match Sinkevitch, Huggins noted.

Huggins said there was no forensic firearms information available in the case. He said the soil samples in the case don’t match. He said they don’t know what size shoe made a shoeprint at the murder scene.

Huggins maintained that Sinkevitch didn’t drive the van seen at the murder scene in videos.

“Is that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, is it?” Huggins asked the jury.

Huggins also questioned the credibility of the witnesses in this case.

“Some witnesses are just not credible,” Huggins said.

He said the case against Sinkevitch doesn’t fall together. Huggins concluded that Sinkevitch has been left with the burden to prove she didn’t commit the murder but in fact it is the state’s burden to prove she did it.

“Who caused the death of Michael Agerter?” Huggins said.

Huggins cautioned the jury to maintain their individual judgment about the case and not to be swayed by the thoughts of other jury members during deliberations.

“Too often juries become a committee of one,” Huggins said. “You get 12 people in there, a foreman is chosen and everybody else quits having any participation. The jury system doesn’t work that way. We need all of you to participate.  We are entitled to your individual judgment.”

While giving the state’s final rebuttal, prosecutor David Ahl said there is no distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence.

“There’s no dispute the defendant owned a gun, yet no gun was ever found in her apartment,” Ahl said. “None of this evidence proves that Kaythryn Sinkevith wasn’t the shooter.”

He said there is no reasonable doubt who killed Agerter.

“There is no real possibility that it was someone else on Dec. 16 who jumped from that van to kill Michael Agerter,” Ahl told the jury. “For that to be true that it was someone else, Kathryn Sinkevitch would have had to have left work in Bridgett Hopkins’ van for no reason whatsoever after not clocking out, despite having her own car there. Just under an hour after leaving work her phone would have had to go dead. In this period, with her cellphone turned off for two hours, Michael Agerter was murdered. Michael Agerter was murdered just over an hour after she turned off her cellphone.”

Ahl said Sinkevitch had the motive and opportunity to kill Agerter.

“She planned it out and tried to hide her tracks,” Ahl said. “After it was over you have her telling lies that she was at work all day. You have her searching her computer on how to turn off 911 tracking on her phone. This defendant was not ready to share her child with its father because it would make her life more difficult.”

About 3 p.m. Monday, Judge Kevin D. White gave the jury their final instructions and sent them to deliberate Sinkevitch’s fate after three of the 15 jurors were selected as alternates and physically excused.

Kathryn Sinkevitch (inset) is accused of murdering Michael Agerter at his home on Sagebrush Trail in 2016.

The second day of Kathryn Sinkevitch’s first-degree murder trial opened with the testimony of Maricopa Police Sgt. Daniel Rauch.

The day was filled with police officers telling the jury about their investigation into the murder of Michael Agerter. During testimony of a Maricopa Police detective, photographs of the murder victim were openly shared to the jury and the victim’s family.

Sinkevitch is accused in the shooting death of 31-year-old Agerter on Dec. 16, 2016.

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.

The initial call of shots fired that day came across radio at 2:28 p.m. Police also were told about a white van leaving the murder scene. Rauch testified how he saw a white van at Honeycutt Road turning south on Hartman right after the call came in. He stopped the vehicle with two female occupants in it.

He said the van was stopped based on the description of the suspect van from the murder scene, and he didn’t believe the two women were involved in the shots-fired call.

He then went to the scene of the crime. He was part of the team who cleared the house.

Rauch said he observed at least one video camera on the outside of the house when he arrived at the scene and he noticed a digital video recorder during a search of the house.

He discovered the victim was involved in a custody issue with Sinkevitch during initial stages of the investigation.

Defense attorney Brett Huggins suddenly asked for a sidebar in chambers just 15 minutes into Rauch’s testimony, and Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin D. White removed jury. The court was recessed while attorneys from both sides talked.

The sidebar discussion was over linking the Bridgett Hopkins van to Sinkevitch via a license plate reader. The license plate reader linked a van belonging to Hopkins, Sinkevitch’s friend, to the area of the murder. Police believe the van was used in the murder and still have it in the impound lot.

Judge White placed a limit on the prosecution’s questions regarding the license plate reader.

After the jury was returned to the courtroom, Rauch said he got information about Hopkins’ van in Mesa and Sinkevitch’s cellphone information.

Police requested a pinging of her phone to find her from her cell phone provider. Sinkevitch was in Tempe, based on the pings, Rauch said. A team of law enforcement officers drove from Maricopa to Tempe to find Sinkevitch, but her location kept changing.

Sinkevitch was finally located in the area of Hopkins’ house in Mesa, based on the cellphone pings. Officers found Sinkevitch’s vehicle in Hopkins’ driveway, along with the van they believe to be used in the murder, Rauch said.

He said officers put together a plan to capture Sinkevitch in the house, as she was already a suspect at the time. Officers had their guns drawn but not aimed at the suspects when they came out of the house in Mesa, he testified.

Officers detained Sinkevitch to conduct an interview with her, and she was placed in a patrol car after being handcuffed, according to Rauch. She was in the vehicle “for a couple of hours” in handcuffs. She was then taken to the Maricopa Police Department for interrogation.

Rauch said additional search warrants were drafted a few days later to locate Sinkevitch after she was let go. At that point, she was wanted for the murder.

Detective Michael Dennison, a Maricopa Police detective for seven years, testified he was called to the murder scene about 10 minutes after the initial call came in.

He said Agerter was found dead of gunshot wounds. He was slumped over the wheel of his Lexus with the motor running in the garage of his house. Dennison also said Sinkevitch’s name came up as a potential suspect within 15 minutes during a background check of the victim.

Dennison was at the victim’s house for eight to nine hours investigating.

He said there was a DVR in the house, and he viewed the footage from four cameras set up around the house.

He explained the video showing a woman, wearing a hoodie, running in front of the house, into the garage, stay for 10 to 11 seconds and then leaving. The video also shows a white minivan drive away after the shooting.

He said the camera angles were from above and did not recorded the face of the person running into the garage.

He said two 40-caliber shell casings were found in the garage during the investigation.

Dennison said he later viewed an interview with Sinkevitch. She told police she was at work all day and didn’t even leave for lunch.

Dennison said surveillance video from her work contradicts Sinkevitch’s statements of not leaving the building. She is allegedly seen leaving at 12:30 or 12:45 and returning three hours later, about an hour after the murder occurred.

The video from the mortgage company where she worked was also used to get a search warrant of her apartment.

During a search, investigators didn’t find a shoe that fit a shoe print found at the murder scene. The shoes Sinkevitch had on when she was first arrested at Hopkins’ place were also examined. The pattern did not match the print found, but the shoe was the right size, he testified.

No shoes matching the print at the murder scene were found.

Dennison attended the victim’s autopsy, and then also examined data related to Sinkevitch’s cellphone. The data traces the cell phone as it moves.

Her cellphone’s historical data information showed Sinkevitch leaving from work at 12:30 the day of the murder, he said. It tracked her to a location near her apartment in just 15 minutes. It was at that location until 1:30 when the phone was apparently turned off. The data continues missing until 5 minutes before Sinkevitch returned to work at the mortgage company.

Police searched Sinkevitch’s vehicle and discovered two license plates that were not associated with her vehicle or Hopkins’ van. Dennison said the plates were from an area near Sinkevitch’s apartment but did not say if they were stolen.

Prosecutors showed images of the crime scene, including photos of the victim dead in the car. Dennison said two of three gunshots fired hit the victim. One round hit the pillar between the front and rear door. Family members began weeping when seeing the pictures.

Dennison said Sinkevitch’s cellphone disappeared from data collection at 1:13 p.m. that day. He testified that he drove suspected routes he believes Sinkevitch could have driven in the commission of the murder. He drove 27 miles from Sinkevitch’s apartment to Agerter’s house in 35 minutes. He left Sinkevitch apartment at 1:07 p.m. and arrived at 1:42 p.m. during the test on Jan. 12, 2017.

In another test, the following day, Dennison said he tried another route and made the trip in 45 minutes and it was 26 miles.

Dennison also made a test trip from the mortgage company where she worked to Sinkevitch’s house. He made the trip in 10 minutes. His test trips between the mortgage company and Agerter’s house took 47 minutes at 31.8 miles.

He said Sinkevitch was “very capable” of getting from work to her house to Agerter’s house and back to work during the time she left work on the day of the murder. Dennison said he never broke the posted speed limits on the roads he tested.

Dennison examined the ADOT traffic patterns on the day of the murder, and there were no recorded traffic problems on the routes during the timeframe involved.

Maricopa Police Detective Mario Palacios testified he arrived at the scene at 4:15 p.m. that day, and other detectives brought him up to speed.

He spoke with a potential witness in the neighborhood. He viewed the home security video and noted seeing a female walking up to the house wearing a dark hoodie and tan pants. She was gone for 10-11 seconds and was then seen leaving in a hurry on the video. He said part of a white van was visible across the street. When the van took off, he said, it is wasn’t possible to see who was in the van.

Prosecutors then showed the video to the jury.

Palacios said on the day Sinkevitch was arrested, he searched Hopkins white van and found a dark hoodie in the van.

Kyle Sobotik, Sinkevitch’s supervisor at the mortgage company, testified Sinkevitch worked for the support team, helping loan officers with problems.

He said Sinkevitch was a very good worker and he had no issues with her. He also said it was unusual for her to be gone for an extended time when she was supposed to be at work.

Sobotik said Sinkevitch “didn’t seem all with it” the Monday following the murder, which occurred on Friday. He said she “kind of looked like a ghost.”

He said he checked her emails from that Friday, the day of the murder, and found more than a two-hour gap, and “that wasn’t like Kathryn. It kind of stood out.”

He said she also didn’t clock out for lunch that day.

Under cross examination, Sobotik said he didn’t see anything “strange” on the day of the murder in the office but he added he wasn’t looking for it.

Roy Rankin, a co-worker of Sinkevitch, was a member of the sales support staff when the murder occurred.

On the day of the murder, Rankin said he sat next to Sinkevitch and said they interacted with each other all the time. He said she was very knowledgeable and kind of “carried the workload of the team.”

Rankin said Sinkevitch talked about her ex-boyfriend, Agerter, and the custody of the baby. She told Rankin that Agerter was getting a DNA test and added, “she wasn’t very happy about it.”

Rankin said Sinkevitch asked him if he knew anyone who had a baby she could borrow for the DNA tests. Later under cross examination he said she did not think she was joking and, “if I would have had a baby, I think she would have taken me up on it.”

Rankin said Sinkevitch was late back from lunch on the day of the murder and kept to herself after she got back. He said she was clearly distracted that afternoon.

At 5 p.m. when the office closed for the day, Sinkevitch left right away. He said she normally would stay and make sure all the work was done for the day.

The trial will reconvene Friday at 10:30 a.m.

MPD personnel at the scene of the crime in 2016.

 

Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

Attorneys for Kathryn Sinkevitch moved to suppress a phone call police recorded in connection with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 31-year-old Michael Agerter in December 2016.

Sinkevitch is accused of shooting Agerter, her ex-boyfriend, in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado. The two lived separately, but had an infant son together. Agerter was reportedly attempting to gain parental rights to the child, who was 1-month-old at the time of the murder.

March 4, defense attorney Bret Huggins motioned to suppress the recording, claiming it was in violation of Sinkevitch’s Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendment rights. Sinkevitch was initially taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.

“On Dec. 16, 2016, after work, Kathryn Sinkevitch was invited over to the home of her friend Bridget Hopkins,” Huggins wrote in his motion to suppress. “Bridget lived with her husband and children at a residence in Mesa… Kathryn arrived there and was visiting inside the home.

“Police surrounded the house and arrested Sinkevitch and locked her in the back seat of a patrol car.

“This activity by the police was not supported by either an arrest or search warrant from any court,” Huggins wrote in his motion.

Sinkevitch was taken to the Maricopa Police Department from Mesa and locked into an interrogation room with a video camera running for several hours according to the motion.

About 2:30 a.m., according to the motion, Sinkevitch “told police she was tired and needed to sleep. The detectives pushed on. Detectives gave Kathryn her Miranda rights. Kathryn told the police clearly, ‘lawyer, I want a lawyer.’”

Huggins continued, “At no time did police take Kathryn to a magistrate in Maricopa County prior to removing her to Pinal County. At no time did police make any effort to get Kathryn a lawyer.”

According to the motion, Maricopa Police influenced her friend Hopkins into recording a telephone conversation between them by threatening “to charge her as an accomplice to the homicide” if she did not assist them.

“At the police direction, Bridget sent a message to Kathryn asking her to call back,” according to the motion. “When the requested return call came back, police directed Ms. Hopkins to answer on speaker as they recorded and monitored the conversation. Indeed, Bridget conducted the conversation as she had been directed by police to do, in order to obtain incriminating information against Kathryn.”

Huggins maintains that police obtaining this “incriminating information” in this manner was in violation of Sinkevitch’s rights after she made a request for counsel, and an attorney was not present when the conversation was recorded.

Huggins asked the court to conduct a voluntariness hearing as he challenges Sinkevitch’s willingness to give a statement to police. He accused the police of overreaching their authority by using her friend to conduct the questioning.

“In assessing voluntariness, the court must consider the totality of circumstances to determine whether the statements were or were not the product of a rational intellect and free will,” the motion reads.

According the Huggins, the court must decide if Miranda warnings were given and waived by Sinkevitch, in addition to proving that her statement to police was voluntary.

“When a person asks for counsel, police may not question him about any matter until an attorney is present. In this case, Ms. Sinkevitch requested counsel, yet she was not provided with a lawyer. Instead, police sought to get around the express request through subterfuge and buy (sic) using her friend,” Huggins’ motion to suppress reads.

The attorney requested the court to hold an evidentiary hearing and to suppress the recording between Sinkevitch and Hopkins. The next hearing scheduled in Sinkevitch’s case is April 10.

Jose Valenzuela is accused of the June 2015 murders of Tina and Michael Careccia. PCSO photo

A capital murder case nearing its third anniversary remained without a scheduled trial date Monday in court.

Murder suspect Jose Valenzuela’s new lead defense attorney, Bobbi Falduto, argued her team would need until August 2019 to be prepared for trial.

Special Prosecutor Gary Husk said he was “troubled” by the requested 15-month continuance.

“That extraordinary delay is unwarranted,” he told Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White in court.

Husk said the belated trial is difficult for the family of Tina and Michael Careccia, the couple Valenzuela is accused of murdering and then burying in his yard in 2015, “and, I, quite frankly, can’t blame them,” Husk added.

Husk said prosecution could be ready for trial in six to eight months. However, White’s judicial schedule is clogged with three capital cases around that time.

White suggested trial take place in September of this year, when his docket opens, but Falduto maintained her team needed more time.

“Judge, I’m not going to avow that I can do that, I just know I can’t. It’s right around the corner,” Falduto said.

Falduto cited her recent appointment in the case as one reason for her request for additional time to prepare. In late January, she took over for James Mannato, the former public defender who retired early this year.

Additionally, Falduto revealed she would present a new defense theory in trial.

“Mr. Mannato had the case at a certain posture, and I actually disagreed with his posture, so we have revamped some of the case strategy,” Falduto said.

Monday, Valenzuela’s attorneys motioned the court for access to counseling records of their client’s son, who may have been an eyewitness in the case, Falduto said.

White ordered the records be subject to protective orders and non-disclosure to the public.

Michael and Tina Careccia lived with family members two streets away from the man charged with their murders. (Instagram)

Falduto has until June 8 to submit a memorandum objecting to the state’s request for disclosure of those records. Husk has until June 22 to file a response.

The defense team also argued it would need additional time to interview an out-of-state witness and a medical examiner.

“Our defense team has met about once a week to get me updated and to update everyone else. Everyone’s taken on certain tasks so we are working this as quickly as possible,” Falduto said. “There’s a lot of amount of discovery, and I think some of the experts that we have spoken with are going to be key to putting forth our defense.”

With a September trial not an option, White said his schedule could accommodate a trial date next July.

Nevertheless, the judge held off from affirming a specific date in court April 30. The case is subject to reassignment under a new judge as White takes on a different assignment in the courts July 1 this year.

White said he’s inclined to keep the case, but he will consult with the schedules of the criminal judge and presiding judge in the event the case is handed over.

Valenzuela’s next hearing in court will be June 25 at 3 p.m.


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Miguel Figueroa. PCSO photo

 

The first-degree murder trial for the man accused of killing his wife with a sword in 2016 was rescheduled Monday afternoon.

Miguel Figueroa would have stood trial next week, but “unfinished” DNA disclosure reports from the state prompted defense attorneys to request a new date.

The state did not object and indicated the results could be disclosed later this week.

Judge Kevin White scheduled the new trial for July 18 at 9 a.m. It’s expected to last seven days and be juried by 12 people.

The reports in question center on DNA from the defendant and his alleged victim, as well as nail clippings, evidence from the presumed murder weapon and “defensive wounds,” said Figueroa’s defense counsel, Scott Johnson.

White vacated next week’s trial to allow Johnson and co-council Mark Benson time to “digest” the information included in the DNA analysis ahead of trial.

The judge attempted to schedule the new trial before his upcoming judicial reassignment July 1. However, multiple, upcoming trials and conferences reported between the state and the defense prevented a sooner trial date.

The state alleges Figueroa stabbed to death his wife, Olivia, in a desert area near Maricopa’s Heritage District two years ago.

Figueroa will be in court again May 21 at 1:30 p.m. for a status review hearing.


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Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Two teens accused of murder appeared in court Monday nearly two weeks after their original trial date.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo were scheduled to go through trial as co-defendants April 10, but received separate trial dates in court April 23. The teens allegedly shot to death 20-year-old Wyatt Miller in 2016 in unincorporated Maricopa.

Olivo will stand trial for six days beginning Oct. 30. Magana’s trial, also planned for six days, is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13. Both trials would feature a 12-person jury.

John Schaus, attorney for Olivo, said he’s still hoping to settle the matter without trial by way of an offer from the state.

“If we settle this, I’ll let you know immediately,” Schauss told Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White.

White vacated the original trial last month because of other conflicting trial dates.

Olivo and Magana will return to court June 11 for a status review conference.


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Kathryn Sinkevitch will be tried for the murder of her former boyfriend. PCSO photo

Michael Agerter’s accused murderer will face a 12-person jury trial after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Michael Agerter

The four-week trial will begin Nov. 27 and is expected to end just four days before Christmas.

Pinal County Judge Kevin White vacated the original spring trial for defendant Kathryn Sinkevitch last month to accommodate defense attorney Bret Huggins’ slammed trial load.

White expressed concern in court April 9 that the new trial may run long and overlap into the busy Christmas week. He told Huggins and prosecutor Shawn Jensvold he may add Mondays to the trial schedule to prevent that situation.

If that decision is made, it’s unclear whether the inaugural day of trial would be moved to Nov. 26.

White also asked lawyers on both sides if a settlement conference had taken place. The goal of these sessions is to resolve the case without trial.

Huggins said one hadn’t occurred and later agreed with Jensvold’s comment that it likely “would not be fruitful.”

The day before the last week of trial begins will mark the second anniversary of Agerter’s murder. The victim was shot to death in the garage of his Rancho El Dorado home Dec. 16, 2016.

Monday’s successful trial date setting was not without a violation of courtroom etiquette.

A bailiff admonished a woman for waving and repeatedly calling the suspect’s name from the gallery as Sinkevitch walked shackled to a holding cell at the conclusion of the hearing.

Sinkevitch will return to White’s courtroom July 16 at 1:30 p.m. for a status review conference ahead of trial.

Miguel Figueroa Sr. (PCSO photo)

The attorney for the Maricopa man accused of using a sword to kill his wife in 2016 said Monday his client is ready for trial.

Miguel Figueroa will stand trial May 8 in front of Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White and a 12-person jury.

The state alleges Figueroa kidnapped and assaulted his son and wife, and then stabbed his wife Olivia to death in a desert field near Maricopa’s Heritage District in December 2016.

Defense attorney Mark Benson said the first-degree murder trial could last five to seven days.

Benson said his client had previously proposed to avoid trial by suggesting a lesser plea.

“Just for the record Mr. (Figueroa) did offer a plea to take class two murder and 25 years, but the state was not interested,” Benson said.

Figueroa also apparently underwent a psychological evaluation in recent months.

A report by Psychologist Carlos Vega in early February said Figueroa has a history with depression, suicidal thoughts, auditory hallucinations and substance use disorder, but “his cognitive and memory functioning are intact.”

Figueroa takes medication for depression, according to the report.

The report goes on to say “Miguel has a factual and rational understanding of the nature of the proceedings against him. He will be able to assist counsel in the preparation of his own defense and does not require further Rule 11 examination.”

March 12 was Figueroa’s first appearance since he reportedly refused to attend his court date last month.

In February, White had discussed possibly rescheduling Figueroa’s May trial date due to a full docket, but the judge affirmed the May date this week.

Figueroa’s next day in court will be April 30 at 2:30 p.m. for a status review hearing ahead of his trial.


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Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo are charged with murder. PCSO photos

Pinal County Superior Court Judge Kevin White vacated a trial date for teen co-defendants accused of first-degree murder and armed robbery Monday.

Arthur Eric Magana and Gustavo Olivo appeared together, with their attorneys, March 12 after appearing separately last month.

The document prompting the trial’s postponement is a motion to sever the case submitted recently by James Soslowsky, Olivo’s defense attorney.

Prosecutor Patrick Johnson is expected to review the motion and file a response within days. If Johnson objects to the severance, an oral argument will be scheduled.

The teens allegedly shot to death 20-year-old Wyatt Miller in an unincorporated area of Maricopa in 2016. They pled not guilty to the murder charges.

Since then, they have appeared jointly in most court hearings. If their case is severed, separate trial dates would likely follow.

With their original trial date of April 10 tossed, White said a new trial date could be set for May – pending the severance issue and the possibility of a plea.

White ordered Magana, Olivo and their attorneys to meet with prosecution for a settlement conference, where plea deal negotiations could take place.

The conference is ordered to occur some time before the teens’ next court date on April 23 at 1:30 p.m.


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This story has been corrected to indicate the name of the victim.

Kathryn Sinkevitch will be tried for the murder of her former boyfriend. PCSO photo

 

The trial date has been vacated for the woman accused of killing her ex-boyfriend in his garage in 2016.

Kathryn Sinkevitch’s first-degree murder trial was set to begin May 8 but might not be heard until November.

Defense attorney Bret Huggins requested the trial be moved due to a capital case he is representing around the same time as Sinkevitch’s original trial date.

Judge Kevin White granted the motion after prosecutor Shawn Jensvold made no objection. Jensvold said a date in November is possible.

Sinkevitch, 34, of Tempe, was charged with the murder of 31-year-old Michael Agerter in December 2016. Agerter had a child with Sinkevitch and was reportedly seeking custody of the newborn.

Agerter’s family was present in court, the child in the care of others outside the courtroom.

Throughout the brief hearing, Sinkevitch frequently turned and smiled at those sitting in the gallery when cries of a child were heard echoing down the hall.

Jensvold told White Agerter’s family is requesting the release of his vehicle, which is still in police custody. Huggins said he does not anticipate objections on his part concerning the vehicle’s release.

The case is subject to cyclical reassignment of rotating judges this year, but White said he may “keep the case.”

Sinkevitch will appear in court April 9 at 1:30 p.m. when the trial date may be re-set.


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Kathryn Sinkevitch will be tried for the murder of her former boyfriend. PCSO photo

The murder case against the Tempe woman accused of killing 31-year-old Michael Agerter in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado nearly one year ago is inching closer to trial.

Kathryn Sinkevitch stood in front of Pinal County Judge Steven Fuller Monday morning for a brief status review hearing. Fuller covered the case for Judge Kevin White, who was assigned to hear a separate trial that morning.

Representing Sinkevitch since late June was attorney Bret Huggins, who requested an additional status review hearing for a date soon after the New Year in preparation for a spring trial.

James Mannato, original attorney for Sinkevitch, withdrew from the case in June for an unspecified “conflict of interest.” Mannato is a public defender.

Huggins also asked Fuller to affirm the May 8, 2018, trial date.

Pinal County Deputy Attorney Sean Coll did not object, adding Agerter’s next of kin indicated they were available to attend court on those dates.

Sinkevitch will stand trial for four weeks in front of a 12-person jury. A grand jury indicted her with first-degree murder in late December 2016.

Sinkevitch has submitted a not guilty plea.

Coll tossed the possibility of a capital case in March citing a lapsed deadline. It was at that time Coll said the Pinal County’s Attorney’s Office would not offer a plea.

Agerter is linked to Sinkevitch by a 1-year-old child that was said to have been the center of a custody dispute between the pair. Agerter was found shot to death in his garage one month after the baby’s birth in the garage of his Maricopa home on Dec. 16, 2016.

It is unclear what Sinkevitch’s defense will be in trial.

In February, White approved the appointment of Susan Schoville with Valley-based Blue Core Investigative Solutions to “assist the defendant and her legal counsel in the investigation and development of her defense,” according to court documents.

Schoville began her investigation in June with Huggins, Sinkevitch and their 144-page case file. Schoville compiled an outline of the case including 911 calls and discovery videos presumably from the defendant’s work dated Dec. 16 through the 19th.

Sinkevitch will be in court again Jan. 9 at 9 a.m.

Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

First-degree murder case against a Tempe woman is moving forward to a trial.

Kathryn Ann Sinkevitch is accused of murder in the death of Michael Agerter. A pretrial conference is set for Feb. 13.

Agerter was found shot to death in the garage of his Rancho El Dorado home on Dec. 16. Sinkevitch, 32, was arrested Dec. 22 by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Taskforce at a location in Avondale. She reportedly had a previous relationship with Agerter and had a child in common who was the center of a custody dispute.

A Pinal County grand jury indicted Sinkevitch on a first-degree murder charge on Dec. 28, citing homicide and domestic violence laws. The true bill states she acted “with premeditation, intending or knowing that her conduct would cause that death.”

Sinkevitch was arraigned before Judge Dwight Callahan on Jan. 6. She remains in Pinal County jail on a $1 million bond.

The pretrial conference is scheduled before Judge Kevin White in Superior Court.