Phoenix Criminal Law News - Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney

May 2010 Archives

Law Enforcers Taking Sexual Assault Investigations Seriously

Kevin Lee Francois has been accused of burglarizing a Tempe apartment and then sexually assaulting the woman who lived there, all of which allegedly occurred in 2003. Law enforcers were only recently able to arrest the suspect after a seven-year joint investigation with multiple police departments in Arizona.

AZ Family reports that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Scottsdale Police Department and Tempe Police Department have all been working on the cold case investigation since the 2003 incident. The 44-year-old suspect was arrested earlier this month in Fullerton, California after county sheriff's deputies and Scottsdale police officers executed search warrants with the help of the local law enforcers in Southern California.

Inappropriate Text Messages Lead To Sex Crime Investigation

Phoenix criminal lawyers know that many crimes can go unnoticed, but phone activity and recorded text messages are just some new ways that parents can become aware of crimes against children. Fox News reports that police officers throughout the state of Arizona are reminding parents that they should be aware of conversations and messages that occur through a child's phone.

Prescott Valley police officers started investigating a 20-year-old Ethan Cook after one person found inappropriate text messages about sex on the suspect's phone. Once somebody noticed the texts that were sent to the victim, the father of the 14-year-old victim reported the crime.

Marijuana Stash Found in Sierra Vista

Law enforcers say that drug smugglers often use stash houses to store drugs, when they're coming across the U.S-Mexican border. But only in very extreme situations are officers able to find more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana in a marijuana stash.

ABC News reports that Sierra Vista police recovered 83 bales weighing a total 2,054 pounds in a marijuana stash after they had received a tip to go check out a house. The discovered marijuana has an estimated street value of $821,000. Police officers arrested a 21-year-old man who is a citizen of Mexico for the alleged pot possession.

Officers Arrest Suspect in Phoenix Police Shooting

A Phoenix police officer was probably not expecting to lose his life when conducting a traffic stop near 19th Avenue and Indian School Road yesterday. However, ABC News reports that the officer from the Squaw Peak Precinct was shot by a man from Tucson when conducting a search and died at St. Joseph's Hospital from the injuries sustained in the Phoenix police shooting.

The suspect in his vehicle was reportedly driving with his lights off and had hit a parked vehicle. A person called police to say that the suspected driver had backed up into an abandoned house. After gunshots were fired, police arrested a Latino suspect for the police officer killing, who was reportedly in the United States legally. He was found hiding in a backyard shed.

Steven Parker Sentenced to Death After Phoenix Killings

Phoenix criminal lawyers see the death penalty as the most severe sentence that any convicted criminal can receive. This is because life is supposed to be considered of the highest value with the law.

In the state of Arizona, it's not often that a person is sentenced to death, because the death penalty requires a unanimous agreement among the jurors. Yet a recent case in Maricopa County shows that some people can still be sentenced to death with certain homicide crimes.

Crime Rates Down in Arizona

Here's some good news for Valley residents, but possibly some bad news for Phoenix criminal lawyers

According to ABC News, federal statistics show that crime is decreasing in most valley cities and across the United States. The recently released 2009 statistics show the crime rates for all the various types of crimes. Valley cities in particular have seen a large drop in the number of murder crimes and the number of robbery crimes.

Teenagers Plead Guilty in Amber Hess Case

Almost three years after the tragic death of Amber Hess, two young men have admitted to the murder by signing plea agreements. The Arizona Republic reports that the girl from Queen Creek was stabbed to death when she was 17 years of age. She was stabbed multiple times in the back, neck and chest. She ultimately died when her aorta was cut in the attack.

She was then dumped in the desert on June 22, 2007, where her body was set on fire.

Todd Hoke, 18 and Nicolas Castillo, 19, are the defendants in this case. They were reportedly friends of the victim and had all seen a movie together before the stabbing. Both male suspects in the case have been in jail since they were 16 years of age, when the incident occurred. The two boys lived within blocks of Amber Hess. According to family members, she was close to Todd Hoke, but then they had a falling out prior to the vicious attack. 

Todd Hoke has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, where Nicolas Castillo has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and abandonment or concealment of a body.

Did you know that walking on a highway can be a form of trespassing? In Arizona, it seems to be covered in its trespassing law.

It's illegal to block public roadways in the state of Arizona, and authorities may not always be sympathetic to whatever a person's reasoning is for doing so. One 35-year-old man from Arizona might need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney very soon if he's charged with a crime for blocking roadways. ABC News reports that the man was arrested on Saturday and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on charges of trespassing and blocking a public throughway in Tolleson.

Authorities were called to the scene after witnesses say that they saw a man running along a section of the freeway wall in the west Valley. The incident took place at the Interstate 10 location, near the eastbound transition ramp from southbound Loop 101. Public safety officers closed a portion of the freeway in Tolleson, while negotiators talked to the man for over an hour.

Plea Bargaining Common in Maricopa County

Plea bargaining is just one common tactic among Phoenix criminal lawyers, and across the state of Arizona the tactic is widely used. The Arizona Republic reports that 72 percent of homicide cases in Maricopa County are resolved through plea agreements, which can be unsettling for the family members of homicide victims but puts ease on the criminal justice system.

The case involving the death of Hamed Junaid is a good example of how a Phoenix criminal defense attorney was able to successfully establish a plea bargain for the defendant. According to the Arizona Republic, the accused killer was initially charged with second-degree murder and two counts of endangerment, which could have led to a prison sentence of 28 years. However, the charges were reduced to just one count of manslaughter in exchange for a guilty plea. A manslaughter sentence has a sentence ranging from 7 to 16 years. The defendant received only a 10.5 year prison sentence for the manslaughter charge.

Theft Of Air Conditioning Units Becomes Problem in Valley

Forget about all the cash, jewelry, and valuable electronics. What the thieves really want is your air conditioner unit.

ABC News reports that burglars in the Valley are causing thousands of dollars in damage to homes when they take air conditioning units. Police say that this type of theft appears to be a Valley-wide problem. After the air conditioning units are taken, the scrap metal from the units can then be sold for a couple hundred dollars. The worst part is that many people may not realize when their homes have been burgled because the thieves usually target vacant or foreclosed properties.

Detectives See Prostitution at Scottsdale Massage Parlors

Can you imagine going to a massage parlor and finding prostitution at the place?

After an 18-month investigation, Scottsdale police officers arrested the owners of three valley massage parlors on Wednesday after detectives found evidence that their businesses were being used as a front for prostitution. ABC News reports that the detectives were able to discover the alleged prostitution bases through an undercover operation.

Search warrants were served at Scottsdale Massage, Paradise Island Massage, and Busy Bodies Massage. Police also searched the home of Laura Ann Walden and Michael Sanford, the business owners at the alleged prostitution sites. A police spokesman told ABC News that Laura Walden and Michael Stanford encouraged employees to engage in prostitution and trained workers on ways to avoid getting caught by authorities.

Woman Faces Felony Charges After Alleged Domestic Violence Assault

A Northern Arizona woman has been arrested on charges of assault per domestic violence, criminal damage per domestic violence, disorderly conduct and a felony charge of interfering with judicial proceedings The domestic violence assault occurred in Yavapai county. ABC News reports that the suspect was booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center and is being held on $20,000 bond.

The long list of charges that 54-year-old Janet Beekman faces are just some types of charges that Phoenix criminal lawyers deal with when they're working on domestic violence cases. With this case, authorities recommended felony charges for Janet Beekman because of her reported prior occurrences and convictions involving similar charges.

Man Arrested For Killing Big Horn Sheep Near Apache Junction

All Phoenix residents should be aware that killing a big horn sheep is illegal, unless one has a permit to do so. Associated Press reports that a man from Mesa has been charged with four wildlife violations, all of which stem from the killing of a big horn sheep near Apache Junction.

Officers with the Arizona Game and Fish Department found a bighorn sheep with its head removed earlier this month and believed that the ram didn't die of natural causes. The officers saw indications that the ram had been illegally shot by the shore of Canyon Lake.

Man Flees Scene After Scottsdale Bar Fight

A fight outside of a Scottsdale bar got may have gotten a bit out of hand when a man pulled out a gun and allegedly shot a woman's arm. ABC News reports that the bar fight started with a verbal argument between a man and two women, which continued into the parking lot outside of Chasers Bar and escalated from there.

The argument turned physical when 31-year-old Edward Martinez allegedly fired a shot at one the females. Both women were then able to take the gun away from the man, and then proceeded to make their way to a nearby hospital. At the hospital in Mesa, the woman was reported to have a non-life threatening arm injury and has since been released.

Scottsdale Police Looking For Hotel Burglar

A man and woman visiting Scottsdale from California were recently victims of a hotel burglar at the Chaparral Suites hotel. The Arizona Republic reports that Scottsdale police officers are now searching for the man who allegedly broke into the hotel room, taking off with a load of cash.

Police are describing the burglary suspect as a white male in his 40s with black and grey hair. He reportedly stands at about 5 feet, 7 inches and was last seen wearing a light-colored Polo shirt with light-colored shorts. If police are able to catch the suspect, the man will probably need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney.

High School Teacher Arrested After Sex Scandal

Some community members might be surprised by the English teacher arrested from Empire High School in Tucson. Associated Press reports that a 25-year-old English teacher at the high school now faces charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and sexual conduct with a minor.

The Empire High teacher, who was identified as Christine Elliot, was also the school's cheerleading coach. She was arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with one of her male students. Police say that a parent of the child found inappropriate messages on his son's cell phone last month, which led to an investigation that included search warrants and interviews.

Man Arrested For Selling Marijuana at Antelope High School

Jose Chavez-Roque will probably need a Phoenix criminal attorney, if he wants to avoid a felony conviction for selling marijuana in a drug free school-zone. Fox News reports that the 19-year-old man was arrested last week, after authorities caught him selling marijuana to a 15-year-old student at Antelope High School in southwest Arizona.

Authorities say that they seized about 6.5 grams of marijuana during the incident. The 15-year-old was referred to the Yuma County Juvenile Court for the alleged possession of marijuana in a drug-free school zone.

Arizona Cities See Large Number of Car Burglaries

Fox News reports that the town of Gilbert, Arizona is known to be one of the safest areas in the country, but perhaps this very reputation is what is attracting so many thieves to the region.

Gilbert Police officers are now suggesting that local residents lock car doors, because there have been a series of car burglaries in the well-to-do town of Gilbert. Within the last six months, Gilbert Police Sgt. Andrew Duncan told Fox News that the town has had about 150 to 160 car burglaries. The police sergeant in Gilbert stated that a high number of car burglaries particularly occur on the borders of Gilbert near Chandler, Mesa, and Queen Creek.

Suspects Arrested For Armed Robberies in Phoenix

Watch out for your belongings when walking through west Valley neighborhoods.  According to ABC News, there have been at least two reported armed robberies on Thomas Road, between 59th and 67th Avenues.  Wallets, cell phones, cash, jewelry and iPods were among the items stolen by the three suspects in the incidents. During the second robbery, one of the victims was reportedly pistol-whipped.

On Sunday, members of the Phoenix Police Department arrested 18-year-old Ruben Torres, 19-year-old Angel Torres and 19-year-old Michael Torres on suspicion of the robberies. All three suspects remain in custody. However, a Phoenix criminal defense attorney may have a lot of work to sort through with this particular case.

A Surprise man with a severe case of road rage has been accused of pointing a gun at another driver who was attempting to drive around the other car. The alleged victim from Peoria told police that the 53-year-old man from Surprise had been driving erratically and slamming on his brakes.

According to the Arizona Republic, the police stopped the armed driver near Greenway Road and Cotton Lane. The driver showed police that he had a pistol, but said that he did not point the gun at another motorist. He also said that the particular Peoria motorist that had reported him was driving erratically. Neither man was arrested on the day of the incident.

Teens Busted For Soliciting Child

A 14-year-old girl from Phoenix ran away from her home on May 1, but she probably never expected to become a child prostitute. Fortunately, the young girl's pimps were unsuccessful in marketing the girl for sex.

The Phoenix New Times reports that two young women told the child that she could stay with them, but that she had to "earn money." They allegedly took photos of the child and posted them with an escort ad on One man, who responded to the ad, gave the women $50 but didn't go through with the sexual acts because he felt that the girl looked to young. Another man gave the woman $75, but left without having sex with the girl because he said that she "looked too much like his daughter."

Escort Accused of Assaulting Hotel Employee

A high-heel shoe can be a female escort's weapon of choice. If used as a weapon it can cause a person to bleed profusely. Doing so can also lead to an arrest and a great deal of legal trouble.

The Arizona Republic reports that 26-year-old Jennifer Thomas allegedly assaulted a valet at Hotel Valley Ho in Old Town Scottsdale. The suspect works reportedly works as an escort and hit the valet's head with her high heel shoe.

Man Arrested For Forging Tickets for The Phoenix Coyotes

A lot of Phoenix sports fanatics could be angry with 35-year-old Mario Cox. The man has been accused of selling fake tickets to the Phoenix Coyotes game on April 16 for $100 each. Now, it looks as if he'll need a Phoenix criminal defense attorney because he has been booked into jail on three counts of forgery, one count of weapons misconduct, and one count of possession of marijuana.

ABC news reports that one of the victims allegedly bought the Phoenix Coyotes tickets from Mr. Cox off of The victim was allowed into the US Airways Center because the tickets appeared to be valid at the door. But once victims sat in their seats, other people arrived to take the same seats and showed similar tickets to the victim's. They had all bought tickets from the same suspect and were removed from the arena by security.

Death Penalty for Steven Parker?

A Maricopa County jury found Steven John Parker guilty of two counts of murder, one count of burglary and one count of kidnapping on Monday. Now, it's up to a jury to make perhaps a more difficult decision -- should there be a death penalty for Steven Parker?

Associated Press states that in order to be sentenced to death in Arizona, jurors must unanimously agree on the death penalty. If the jurors can't cannot unanimously agree, prosecutors say that Mr. Parker will be facing a natural life prison sentence.

Another Man Sentenced In Young Champions of America Case

The man with the plan is about to do time for his crime. A judge sentenced 20-year-old Jeffrey Otto to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for taking part in setting a Phoenix business on fire last year.

According to ABC News, one man died in the fire at Young Champions of America on June 14, 2009. The victim was 28-year-old Josh Robinson and was actually an accomplice in the plot to burn down the business. He reportedly died while trying to spread gasoline throughout the building near 40th Street and Southern Avenue.

County Attorney's Office Files Charges Against Agua Fria Teacher

Maricopa County Superior Court documents show that Brian L. Willner has been charged with kidnapping, sexual abuse and sexual assault, according to the Arizona Republic. The man is a special education teacher at Agua Fria High School, but he has been on paid administrative leave since April 28. He was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on May 3.

This criminal case might be surprising to many people in the Avondale community. Brian Willner, who served as the school's special-education chairman, has been accused of raping a 15-year-old special education student. The victim reportedly has bipolar disorder, psychosis and attention-deficit disorder

Legal Fireworks in Arizona

It's currently illegal to sell, use, explode, or even possess fireworks in the state of Arizona. However, this law is about to change. They'll soon have no need to call a Phoenix criminal defense attorney after being caught with fireworks by law enforcers. Legal fireworks will soon be the norm in Arizona.

Associated Press reports that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill yesterday to allow for the sale and use of sparklers and other fireworks that shoot off sparks, but do not explode. A similar bill was vetoed by the governor in 2009, but this new version allows for the state to collect a penalty for the misuse of fireworks and to use such money for fire suppression. The bill also allows for cities and counties to adopt measures that would restrict the use of fireworks in certain areas during times of risk of wildfire.

Man Faces Manslaughter Charges After DUI Crash

A 23-year-old man is now facing man is now facing manslaughter charges after a teenage boy was pronounced dead from a drunk driving incident. The Arizona Republic reports that the victim was just 18 years old and was a senior at Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe.

The man accused of killing 18-year-old Cody Bishop has been identified as Steven Jo Landrum, 23, and is reportedly a resident of Gila River Indian Community. He was allegedly driving 81 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone when he hit Cody Bishop's van on Ray Road in Chandler. The victim was put on life support after the crash but pronounced dead just a couple days later.

Burglars Arrested in Scottsdale

A 27-year-old Scottsdale homeowner probably had the scare of his life when three men tried to burgle his house while he was inside the home. Luckily, he was able to contact police in a back room and have the suspects arrested.

ABC News reports that the man was by himself in his home at Hayden and Indian Bend Roads when heard a knock on the door. Before he could answer, two men allegedly kicked down the rear door and came inside the home. Once the suspects realized that there was somebody in the house, they fled the scene in a blue Ford Mustang. An officer later saw the Mustang driving near the Loop 101 and stopped the driver of the vehicle.

Police Arrest Graffiti Suspect

The city of Maryvale has seen its fair share of graffiti on numerous properties. While this form of art might be appealing to some people, it can cost the city, residents, and local businesses thousands of dollars for graffiti removal. For this reason, law enforcers choose to take tagging and graffiti crimes very seriously.

AZ Family News reports that Phoenix police officers with the Maryvale Precinct recently arrested a graffiti suspect after a long investigation. The suspect, Robert Hernandez, has been accused of committing damage with graffiti, a criminal act, to numerous properties in Maryvale neighborhoods. Investigators with the Phoenix Police Department say that the suspect is believed to be part of a tagging crew that uses the term "NEAR" when doing their graffiti.

Rapper DMX Filing Lawsuit From Phoenix Jail

Rapper DMX has faced a great deal of legal trouble over the last decade. Associated Press reports that the rapper was in jail for nearly three months last year for animal cruelty, theft, and drug possession charges. The charges stemmed from an August 2007 incident in which authorities found three dead dogs, guns, ammunition and drug paraphernalia at his suburban home.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says that the 39-year-old rapper is now in a Maricopa County jail again because he violated the terms of his probation by failing a drug test. Yet the man's jail time is not stopping DMX from leading the life he dreams of. Even from jail, rapper DMX has managed to file a lawsuit against Rich Kid Entertainment, claiming the company ripped him off for $1 million in royalties.

Teacher Accused of Raping Student at Agua Fria High

A teacher at Agua Fria High School has been accused of raping a 15-year-old special education student and is now being held in jail without bond. The Arizona Republic reports that the special education teacher Brian Willner was arrested earlier this week on one count each of sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor. Yet the suspect now has a Phoenix criminal attorney who insists that his client is innocent.

"I have a lot of clients and some of them are guilty as hell," Phoenix Criminal Attorney Craig Mehrens told Arizona Republic. "But I've had over my career some that are innocent, and this is a guy who looks to me like he is really, really getting set up."

Man Sentenced in Child Pornography Case

A 67-year-old man was recently sentenced to 155 years in prison after being convicted of 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation. Associated Press reported that Knute Kolman, of Prescott, was convicted by a Yavapai County jury and that the man will soon be heading to the slammer, but it seems that the man still has some unfinished legal business.

Knute Kolman will be heading back to court on May 10 because authorities have also charged him with forgery, identity theft, interfering with judicial proceedings and failure to appear in court. Perhaps the 155 years isn't bad enough for the convicted criminal.

Man Accused of Robbery and Stealing Cars

Glendale Police caught a man on Monday who stole two cars and attempted to rob another man. While officials have not specified the charges that the suspect will be facing, it seems pretty clear that 29-year-old Derek Laschanzky will be needing a Phoenix criminal defense attorney at this point.

ABC News reports that Laschanzky got into an argument with his brother on Monday, which led Laschanzky to allegedly steal the brother's car. The suspect crashed the vehicle at a Quik Trip gas station near 99th Avenue and Camelback Road shortly after stealing the vehicle. He then approached a father with his two-year-old daughter and demanded that the father hand over his Toyota Sequoia.

Man Arrested After Allegedly Assaulting Police Officer

No matter how angry you are with somebody, remember that it's illegal to physically strike another person or even to put another person in fear of immediate harm. Assaulting anyone, especially a police officer can definitely lead to criminal charges.

ABC News reports that two men were recently arrested for disorderly conduct after getting into a fight in downtown Scottsdale last week. Officers with the Scottsdale Police Department say that they noticed two intoxicated men fighting each other near 5th Avenue and Scottsdale Road. The two men were later identified as brothers Shannon and Shaylon Henry.

Over 500 Pounds of Marijuana Found in Watermelon Truck

An Arizona Department of Public Safety patrol officer stopped a commercial tractor that was pulling a 53-foot box trailer last week on Interstate 17 in Yavapai County. Fox News reported that the vehicle was stopped just north of Cordes Junction for equipment violations, but once authorities searched the trailer, they found a stoner's goldmine. They found pounds of marijuana.

In a large rig among pallets of watermelon, authorities recovered 506 pounds of marijuana that was wrapped in wallpaper. The estimated street value of the pot was said to be more than $278,000. If losing that much marijuana wasn't bad enough, the suspects were booked into the Yavapai County Jail on charges of possession and transportation of narcotic drugs for sale.

Man Arrested For Allegedly Stealing Social Security Number

A 23-year-old man from Prescott contacted law enforcers and reported fraudulent use of his social security number, after a case worker had asked him questions about a job that he never had. It turns out that someone was busy stealing his social security number and using it in order to get a job.

 According to ABC News, the victim of social security fraud had been conducting business with the Arizona Department of Economic Security. When a case worker as the man about his job at a concrete company in Mesa, the victim replied that he never had such a job and was not familiar with the company.

Detectives with the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office then arrested 44-year-old Raymond Corral, who was suspected of social security number theft. He was employed by Whitton Concrete Company in Mesa and reportedly admitted that he knowingly used the stolen social security number to get hired at the concrete company. ABC News reported that Raymond Corral is in the U.S illegally and used the social security number to get a job.

Tuscon Church Fires May Have Been Caused By Arsonists

A fire broke out at Northwest Community Friends Church last week in Tucson, but investigators are still looking into what sparked the fire. Associated Press reports that the Pima County Sheriff's deputies believe arson was the cause.

Firefighters were called to the scene just after midnight on Friday after a passerby had called to report the fire. After the fire was put out, there was reportedly significant damage to the front of the church and smoke damage throughout the building.

Family Fight Leaves Police Confused

A family fight between a husband and wife in Avondale got out of hand and even violent, after the two allegedly stabbed each other. ABC News reports that one of the couple's teenage sons called a 911 operator to say that their father was assaulting their mother.

Once law enforcers arrived at the residence, police say they heard people inside the home screaming with a female voice shouting "help me." After hearing a cry for help, police officers forced entry into the home and saw that the mother had suffered numerous injuries, including several stab wounds. However, the father was lying face down in the home with what appeared to be numerous lacerations to his body. He was found covered in blood and non-responsive.