FELONY FIRST DEGREE MURDER and FELONY SEXUAL ASSAULT REDUCED to 13 YEARS in PRISON – State v. Mr. B (DMC No. 12994) (Maricopa City Court CR2013-002605): This “cold case” involved a Rape / Murder per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-1105 and ARS 13-1406, which occurred on January 20, 1980. In 1988, Mr. B plead to 2 Counts of Sexual Assault which occurred in Chandler, AZ in the mid 1980’s. In both of those cases, he tied up the victims with shoe laces prior to raping them. He had been sentenced to Prison and was not scheduled to be released until the summer of 2015. When the 1980 murder had first occurred, Mr. B was a suspect and he was questioned by Police (even though he was only 14 years old). After his 1988 convictions, the Police revisited Mr. B because the 1980 Rape/Murder had the same modus operandi as the 1988 cases.
They eventually tested his DNA in 2005 while he was in Prison. However, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office held off indicting Mr. B until June of 2013. We were then contacted and hired by Mr. B’s family.
Immediately after being retained, a three person defense team from our firm was assembled to defend this particular case. Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists David Cantor, Joey Hamby and an Associate Attorney met to discuss strategy. The 3 major defenses we focused on were pre-indictment delay due to the fact the DNA matched a single pubic hair taken from the victim’s vagina in 1980, which was not tested until 2005, and matched thirteen loci on our client. Our goal was to look for “actual prejudice” due to the delay between 2005 and 2013. Our second defense had to do with chain of custody because that single hair was tested in Mesa, then Los Angeles, then the FBI, then retested a fourth time by Mesa in 2005. The possibility of contamination was high. The third defense we looked for was whether there was an actual root on the hair. According to our DNA expert, you cannot do an analysis on a dead hair that does not have a root. Our theory was that when they executed a search warrant on our client in 2005 and plucked one of his pubic hair, that they then claimed that was the actual hair from the crime scene.
As the case developed, we also found evidence of a potential serial rapist/serial killer who had been in Mesa in 1980. We used private investigators to attempt to track him down, along with one of his surviving victims. This individual had a habit of keeping photographs of his victims. One of the surviving victims was actually interviewed by Police early into the investigation and had indicated that she thought she saw a photograph of the 1980 victim in this other person’s house.
Ultimately, the case was set to a settlement conference and a plea was received which resulted in 13 additional years of Jail from the time of the sentencing. Mr. B was in his late 40’s at the time of the sentencing and is now going to be a free man at approximately 60 years of age.