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June 2011 Archives

Judge Rules That Jared Loughner Can Be Forcibly Medicated

Defense attorneys representing Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner tried to stop prison officials from forcibly medicating their client, but a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the medicating procedures can continue even against Loughner’s will.

Reuters reports that the judge found Loughner incompetent to stand trial last month on charges that he killed six people and wounded 13 others. Because he was unfit for trial, Loughner was ordered to stay in a prison-like hospital in Springfield, Missouri, where he would receive treatment so that his mental competency can be restored. It’s possible for him to remain hospitalized indefinitely if he does not get well.

4th of July Parties: Know the Phoenix and Arizona Fireworks Laws

The sale of fireworks had been illegal in the state of Arizona for 50 years up until December 1, 2010. Thanks to a push from lobbyists in the fireworks industry, a law passed in the legislature last year that legalized the sale of certain types of fireworks that include handheld sparklers, cone fountains and ground spinners.

Yet even though the sale of certain fireworks is now legal, The Arizona Republic reports that most municipalities in the state of Arizona restrict the use of fireworks due to public-safety threats and fire dangers that are posed by fireworks. We can expect many 4th of July celebrations this weekend in the Valley and many good times. Just be sure to be familiar with Arizona fireworks laws if you want to avoid a criminal citation.

Phoenix Burglaries: Police Get Their Men

Residents of the Valley may have noticed that there was a string of residential burglaries in Phoenix’s Lindo Park area last fall. The spike in burglaries led police from the department’s South Mountain Precinct to launch a long-term investigation of the Phoenix burglaries and stolen property, reports The Arizona Republic.

This week, police arrested 11 adults and one juvenile suspect in connection with the 25 south Phoenix burglaries. All of the suspects are age 21 or younger and authorities are still searching for three more suspects in the Valley. Officials say that they believe that the group of people worked together in the burglary crimes. The suspects will now face charges of burglary, trafficking in stolen property, conspiracy to commit burglary, money laundering, theft and assisting in a criminal street gang.

James Ray Found Guilty of Negligent Homicide in Sweat Lodge Case

Arizonians still haven't forgotten about the tragic sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona that killed three people in October 2009. Reuters reported that the people died after participating in a "spiritual warrior" retreat, where dozens of people were crammed into a four-foot tall sweat lodge that was packed with superheated rocks. Even when participants became delirious and passed out from suffocation, Ray did not stop the ceremony.

But were the sweat lodge deaths the result of an accident or should the deaths be considered a crime? This is a tough question that jurors had to decide on in a Camp Verde courtroom. On June 22, the Yavapai County jury found that Ray is not guilty of manslaughter in the sweat lodge case, but instead guilty of the lesser charge of negligent homicide.

A 25-year-old man in a hotel room at the Clarion Hotel Scottsdale called 911 on June 10 to report that a bomb had gone off in the vicinity, but police officers never found a bomb when they arrived at the Scottsdale hotel. Instead, Arizona Republic reports that the officers were greeted by bullets from a semi-automatic pistol when they confronted the 911 caller.

Police then returned the fire and reportedly shot the suspect Derek Eckles in the torso. Eckles was treated for the gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital, but he was later released from the hospital and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail. The suspect is now being held on multiple felony counts that include attempted first degree murder of a police officer, endangerment and aggravated assault.

Wallow Fire Campfire May Result in Criminal Charges

It's been 20 days since the Wallow Fire ignited and started burning through the state of Arizona. As of Thursday afternoon, Reuters reported that the fire had already roared through 760 square miles in the eastern region of the state and only had about 30 percent containment. With more than 4,600 firefighters working to battle this blaze, there's a good reason why state officials are calling this the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Yet perhaps the Wallow Fire shouldn't be considered a "wildfire." Authorities now suspect that the fire started when two campers left their campfire burning on May 29, reports Phoenix New Times. So far, the federal investigators have not released the names of their "two persons of interest" nor have they made any arrests.

Operation Special Delivery: Major Marijuana Bust in Phoenix

Sheriff Joe Arpaio decided to conduct a year-long investigation that tracked drugs and money traveling through the state of Arizona. This lengthy investigation resulted in seven Phoenix-area arrests and the seizure of 1,000 pounds of marijuana, reports ABC News.

Some say that this case highlights the growing trend of drug trafficking across borders and the need to crack down on such crimes. Apparently, the investigation detailed involvement of foreign nationals from Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, and Mexico. The Phoenix suspects in this case were booked on charges of possession of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute and money laundering.

In addition to all the marijuana handed over to authorities, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office also seized weapons, over $1 million in cash, and 17 vehicles.

Jared Loughner Refers to Judge as "Your Cheesiness"

It's no secret that a defendant's conduct in court can make an impression on both the judge and jurors of a criminal case. Hence, it's important to read up on the basic rules of the court before attending a hearing.

We reported in an earlier blog post that U.S. District Judge Larry Burns kicked Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner out of his courtroom last month, but news reports didn't specify what exactly led up to Loughner's dismissal. It turns out that a recently released transcript of the hearing states that Loughner referred to the judge as "your cheesiness," according to CBS News.

Rachel Brock Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse With Sexual Motivation

Rachel Brock could have been sentenced to decades in prison when she faced seven counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of furnishing obscene materials to a minor earlier this year. Yet the 22-year-old daughter of Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock was able to work out a plea deal with prosecutors so that she now faces no more than a year in county jail and 10 years of probation when she is sentenced in August.

Brock pleaded guilty to just two counts of child abuse with sexual motivation on Wednesday, reports Phoenix New Times. Believe it or not, this type of criminal charge is actually considered far less severe than the charges of sexual conduct with a minor.

Tolleson Shooting May Have Been an Accident

Tolleson police responded to calls about a gunshot earlier this week near 94th Avenue and Van Buren Street. Officers were eventually able to identify and arrest the suspected shooter, but it appears as if the discharge of the firearm in this case could have been an accident.

The suspect in this case is 18-year-old Robert Tafoya, who reportedly dropped his shotgun and tried to run away from the scene after the June 6 shooting incident, reports The Arizona Republic. The victim in this case was a friend of Tafoya and was reported to be in stable condition after he underwent surgery for the gunshot wound.

Faking Your Death is Hard to Do

George Arcieri allegedly faked his own death after severely beating a 34-year-old woman in Scottsdale during the 1980s. However, it looks like Arcieri wasn’t able to completely fool investigators with his plan of “escape the police by ‘death’” and authorities in Arizona were finally able to locate the suspect this year in Palm Springs, more than 20 years after the crime took place.

After the Scottsdale beating, it had been reported that Arcieri died after falling off a rock along the Colorado River, according to the Associated Press. Yet police somehow doubted that Arcieri died in this way, which led to the national attention of Arcieri’s disappearance. His “death” was even discussed on the television show “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Cory Nelson Charged With Felony For 'Borrowing' Cars

Don't "borrow" items from your friends without their permission, especailly motor vehicles or other expensive valuables. A Fort Mohave man is learning this lesson the hard way in jail, as he was arrested last week after borrowing cars from people that he knew as acquaintances.

ABC News reported that one theft victim found a note on his door from 37-year-old Cory Nelson that read "borrowed the car for a few hours to move some things." Nelson, who was an acquaintance of the victim, was arrested and taken into custody after deputies found the car in Nelson's driveway. On May 23, Nelson's girlfriend also contacted deputies to report that Nelson took her Ford Mustang without her permission.

Phoenix Rape Suspect DeJaun Donaldson Pleads Not Guilty

An 18-year-old man, who has been accused of committing a series of rape attacks in South Phoenix, has entered a plea of not guilty to all criminal charges that he faces in in his case. ABC news reports that the defendant DeJaun Donaldson is facing 16 counts that include kidnapping, sexual assault, sexual conduct with a minor, armed robbery and aggravated assault, among other charges.

Police have DNA evidence they say confirms that Donaldson is linked to three sexual assault attacks. Apparently, it was the proximity of Donaldson to each of the victims that led authorities to question him as a suspect. Donaldson lived very close to where the first two attacks too place. He then moved and resided directly across the street from the third victim