Arizona inmate sentenced to death for 2014 prison murder

(FLORENCE, AZ) - A jury has sentenced an inmate within the Arizona Department of Corrections to death for the murder of another inmate nearly a decade ago.

On August 1st, 2023, a Pinal County Superior Court jury sentenced Julio Salazar, 41, to death.

A jury previously found Salazar guilty of Premeditated First Degree Murder, a Class One Felony.

On August 16th, 2014, staff at the ASPC-Eyman complex in Florence responded to an incident in the basketball enclosure, and found inmate Lino Flores, 53, lying face up in a pool of blood. The suspect, who was also inside the basketball enclosure, was identified as inmate Julio Salazar, who had blood covering his shoes and socks.

One of the security cameras captured the incident on video. The video shows another inmate placing a ‘shank’ inside a water cooler within the basketball area prior to Salazar’s arrival. Salazar is shown on video removing the item from the cooler and attacking Flores, stabbing him in the head and body while playing basketball. Salazar also punched Flores multiple times in the head, kicked him, stomped and punched his head several times while on the ground, put him in a choke hold and took the prison made weapon and stabbed the victim in the forehead. The assault continued and ended with Salazar stepping on Flores’ face with his entire body weight. Video shows Salazar then dancing around the enclosure. In all, investigators determined Flores was stabbed and stomped hundreds of times over the span of 47 minutes.

An autopsy showed the victim suffered a crushed skull, broken ribs and a fractured larynx, among other injuries. The doctor who performed the autopsy noted the victim’s body was in a condition “similar to a person in a motor vehicle accident.”

The aggravating factors in this case included that the murder was especially heinous or especially depraved, a serious prior felony conviction by the defendant, and that the offense occurred in the State Department of Corrections.

Salazar’s serious prior offenses included a Manslaughter from 2000 and a 2007 Attempted Murder of an Arizona Correctional Officer.

This case is the first time a Pinal County jury has imposed the death penalty in more than 20 years.