Sky is the Limit

San Tan Valley, Arizona – The Pinal County Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Florence Unified School District, United Way, Compassion Care Center, Girl Scouts USA, and Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation was proud to host more than 35 sixth to eighth-grade girls and their mothers at Poston Butte Highschool to take part in this years’ “Sky is the Limit” event.

Each participant was able to spend the Saturday with their mother designing their craft journals and listening to local experts talk about issues every teen should consider. It is an event designed to open the lines of communication between teens and their parents so that everyone is better prepared to react when issues arise in their lives.

To learn more about Sky is the Limit watch this video below:

Pinal County Diversion Program reports a 13% Increase in Participation in 2019

Last year, the Pinal County Diversion program served 529 people in 2019, giving those participants a chance to work through the program as a means to avoiding a costly trial and jail time. Under this program, a defendant enters a formal agreement that includes his/her admission to the crime and the defendant’s promise to abide by all the program requirements.

Diversion typically begins before formal legal proceedings commence. Diversion benefits the State and victims by resolving cases in a promp; and efficient manner, saving both time and public funds. Additionally, defendants are more likely to successfully complete diversion programs and have lower recidivism rates than those sentenced to probation or prison.

In the program, defendants are also encouraged to give back to their communities by participating in various service projects like school supply drives for elementary and highschool kids or hygiene kit donation drives benefiting local women’s shelters.

 

To learn more about the Pinal County Diversion Program go to https://pinalcountyattorney.org/criminal-justice/diversion/

Pinal County Files Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers, Distributors, Prescribers, and Dispensers, Files in State Court for Damages to Pinal County

Pinal County—The Pinal County Attorney’s Office released the following statement related to the County filing a state court lawsuit against the opioid manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers.

“Today, Pinal County filed a lawsuit in Pinal County Superior Court seeking damages for the societal and financial harm it has suffered at the hands of those responsible for the opioid crisis—the manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  The County is seeking a return of taxpayer dollars lost as a result of the opioid crisis and other relief to support the residents of Pinal.

As every Pinal County resident knows, our community has suffered as a result of the crisis created by the manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers of opioids.  By filing this lawsuit, the County is making it clear that our community will not simply stand by as the residents of Pinal County suffer, and will continue to suffer, while the defendant manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers continue to profit from their sales and distribution of highly addictive drugs.

Pinal County has retained, at no expense to the County or its taxpayers, a coalition of law firms to prosecute this action on its behalf.  The litigation will be led locally by the Arizona firm of Fennemore Craig.  Lead trial counsel will be the litigation boutique law firm of Theodora Oringher PC.

The County is filing in Pinal County Superior Court, instead of in the federal courts in Cleveland, OH because the case is rooted in Arizona state law and because the County believes it is important that an Arizona jury and judge decide the facts that are unique to Pinal.  The filing alleges the following:

  • Each of the Defendants in this action engaged in an industry-wide effort to downplay the dangerous and deadly potential effects of the misuse of prescription opioids. Simply put, these Defendants put their desire for profits above the health and wellbeing of the People of Pinal County.  The County and its citizens have paid dearly as a result.
  • The Manufacturer Defendants engaged in a scheme designed to increase the number of opioid prescriptions written across the state of Arizona, specifically in Pinal County. The Defendants’ scheme was particularly well-suited to Pinal County because it is home to a multitude of economically and medically vulnerable populations that Defendants knew were uniquely predisposed to opioid addiction, including the elderly.
  • These Defendants succeeded in dramatically increasing the number of opioid prescriptions in Pinal County by (1) concealing the truth about the risk of addiction and death associated with long-term use of their products, and (2) pressuring their respective sales forces to deceive (and bribe) local physicians and other prescribers to flood Arizona—and Pinal County—with far more opioid prescriptions than were medically necessary.
  • The Distributor Defendants shipped prescription opioids throughout the country, including to addresses in Pinal County. Rather than meet their obligations under Arizona law to report suspicious orders of opioids, these Defendants willfully ignored impossibly large shipments of opioid into the County and across Arizona.  They failed to report suspicious shipments despite being under clear statutory and common law obligations to do so, and in contravention of their own internal policies and procedures.  The Distributor Defendants’ breaches of their respective reporting obligations were willful, motivated by their desire to maximize profits and were committed without consideration of the cost to Pinal County or its citizens.
  • The Prescriber Defendants manipulated their patients and facilitated the Manufacturer and Distributor Defendants’ scheme by passing out opioids discount cards to vulnerable patients, increasing patients’ opioid dosages without regard for the serious health risks and/or improperly prescribing opioids in violation of applicable Arizona laws and regulations.
  • The Pharmacy Defendants enabled the Manufacturer and Distributor Defendants’ scheme by improperly compounding, dispensing, selling, possessing and/or maintaining opioids in violation of applicable Arizona laws and regulations.

A link to the filing may be accessed here: Pinal County Complaint

The County and its residents are well aware of the harm we have suffered and the numerous steps the County has undertaken to mitigate that harm.  Pinal County has made great strides in its efforts to combat the opioid crisis but has suffered a significant financial burden in the process.  And the costs will keep coming for at least another generation.  It is time to get relief directly from those who created this crisis, to ease the burden on the County’s coffers and taxpayers that Pinal County has been forced to shoulder due to the malfeasance of the opioid manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and dispensers.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office will be participating in several events highlighting the effects of domestic violence in our community.

Please join us, with the Maricopa Police Department, on October 3rd for a special presentation of “23 Bruises.” A play depicting the real-life struggle of a Mesa woman to end the cycle of domestic violence in her own life.

To R.S.V.P. or for more information email nancy.larsen@pinalcountyaz.gov

Casa Grande man sentenced to 19 years for manslaughter in 2013 fatal shooting

UPDATE

FLORENCE, Ariz. (July 22, 2019) – Pinal County Superior Court Judge Patrick Gard sentenced Andrew Salazar to 19 years in prison for the manslaughter of Robert Ben DeArman III. Salazar was already serving time for a gun violation case. The manslaughter sentence will run concurrently with the gun violation case. Salazar was facing a minimum of 10.5 years and a maximum of 21 years in prison on Friday, July 19, 2019, when he received his sentence.

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FLORENCE, Ariz. (May 23, 2019) – On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, a jury found Andrew Salazar guilty of manslaughter, a class two dangerous felony.

On October 11, 2013, Robert Ben DeArman III was shot and killed at a party with friends in Florence. According to investigators, Andrew Salazar was drinking at the party for several hours. During the event, Salazar pointed a gun at the victim and shot him once in the chest, killing him. Investigators determined Salazar was intoxicated and using prescription medication when DeArman was shot.

At the time of the shooting, the defendant was a convicted felon. Salazar was also on probation and was unlawfully in possession of the firearm.

Salazar faces a mandatory minimum of ten and a half years and a maximum of 21 years for manslaughter. Salazar is expected to be sentenced on July 19th at Pinal County Superior Courthouse.

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DeArman Family Statement:

“I just have to thank you again for getting us JUSTICE yesterday. Your professionalism, determination and strength in our case gave us the verdict we’ve been waiting for for the last 6 years. I truly believe that you were sent to us by a higher power. Robert can now finally rest in peace. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Connie Hills

 

Man sentenced to 20 years for killing woman in wrong-way collision

FLORENCE, Ariz. (June 4, 2019) – Globe resident Jaeden Spurgeon, 20, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a judge. He pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault.

  • Manslaughter, a class 2 felony
  • Aggravated Assault, a class 3 felony, endangering an officer
  • Aggravated Assault, a class 3 felony, recklessly causing an injury with a dangerous instrument

On April 10, 2017, Globe Police Department took a domestic violence report about a man who reportedly stole his girlfriend’s black SUV. When police found the SUV, Jaeden Spurgeon was driving in a parking lot. When one officer tried to approach Spurgeon’s car on foot, Spurgeon sped up and nearly hit the officer before he fled on US60. Multiple police agencies pursued Spurgeon for about 20 miles but stopped their pursuit after Spurgeon began driving the wrong-way on a divided highway for another nine miles. During that time, at least five people called 911. The defendant later admitted to police he was driving up to 100 miles per hour. When police caught up to Spurgeon, they discovered he collided with two other cars.

While Spurgeon was driving the wrong-way, he killed one woman and seriously injured her male passenger. The woman, pinned in the car, died of blunt force trauma. Another woman, driving a third car, was also involved in the collision, but was not injured.

Spurgeon pleaded guilty to manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault.   One count of aggravated assault was for intentionally putting an officer in reasonable fear of imminent physical injury. And the other aggravated assault for recklessly causing an injury with a dangerous instrument.

“We feel we have given the victims justice, but their pain continues.  The decedent’s mother told the judge that she is losing her eyesight.  Her daughter promised to help her when she went totally blind.  Now, she needs her daughter’s help, but the Defendant killed her while he was fleeing from the police.” Prosecutor Matthew Reed said.

The judge sentenced Spurgeon to the maximum 20 years in prison. Spurgeon received a twelve-year sentence for manslaughter followed by another eight years for aggravated assault. The second aggravated assault sentence of 7.5 years will run concurrently with the manslaughter charge.

Here is the Spurgeon Sentence Press Release.

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Victim Statements

“The sentence will act as a stern deterrent. It’s been two years, and I am still scared when I drive. You wonder when it will stop, but it’s just something you have to learn to live with.”

– Ana Campos, Victim

“The sentence was right.  He killed my mom.  He nearly killed me and he nearly hit that cop. Someone with a driver’s license takes on a big responsibility.  He put multiple lives in danger.  I saw his head lights coming at me and I knew he was on the wrong side of the road.  I believe he was fully aware of what he was doing. I just hope that he reflects on what he did and one day he will realize what he did to my grandma.”

– Brandon Gee, Victim

“Nobody should think the sentence was too harsh.  He was charged with second degree murder and he pleaded to manslaughter.  He was charged with ten counts and he pleaded to three.  If he went to trial on what he was charged with, he would have served a much longer sentence. The only person he cared about was himself.  He was so selfish. I’m glad the judge considered his prior contact with the law.  He is young, but he has four prior adjudications and one for a felony offence.   The judge was fair.  He considered the mitigation and the aggravation.  Any judge who considered all the aggravation would have given that sentence.”

– Karen Todd, Victim

Casa Grande Man Guilty of Manslaughter in 2013 Fatal Shooting

FLORENCE, Ariz. (May 24, 2019) – On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, a jury found Andrew Salazar guilty of manslaughter, a class two dangerous felony.

On October 11, 2013, Robert Ben De Arman III was shot and killed at a party with friends in Florence. According to investigators, Andrew Salazar was drinking at the party for several hours. During the event, Salazar pointed a gun at the victim and shot him once in the chest, killing him. Investigators determined Salazar was intoxicated and using prescription medication when De Arman was shot.

At the time of the shooting, the defendant was a convicted felon. Salazar was also on probation and was unlawfully in possession of the firearm.

Salazar faces a mandatory minimum of ten and a half years and a maximum of 21 years for manslaughter. Salazar will receive his sentence on July 19th at Pinal County Superior Courthouse.

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Family Statement of Robert Ben De Arman III:

To whom it may concern,

Our family would like to take this time to thank everyone that assisted with getting the justice that we received. This has been a long road not only for our family but also for those who have worked so hard on the case.

We would like to personally thank Sgt. James Rimmer, Vince Goddard, David Ahl, Barbara Marvel, Jesus Pacheco, Gina Ramirez and Arizona Voice for Crime Victims. Most of these individuals have been with our family since the start of all this and never once did our family feel alone or doubt that we wouldn’t get the justice that was much needed. Thank you again to all of you for your hard work and dedication.

The Family of Robert Ben De Arman III

 

Maricopa Woman Guilty of First-Degree Premeditated Murder

Florence, Ariz. (May 8, 2019) – A jury convicted 34-year-old Kathryn Sinkevitch of first-degree premeditated murder on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Major Crimes Bureau Chief Shawn Jensvold and Deputy County Attorney David Ahl lead the prosecution.

“We are pleased with the jury’s verdict because it is entirely consistent with the evidence presented at trial. The evidence, which was both direct and circumstantial, pointed directly to Sinkevitch and there is no reason to suspect that anyone else killed Michael,” Shawn Jensvold said.

On December 16, 2016, City of Maricopa Police Department received multiple 911 calls of shots fired. When police arrived on scene they discovered 31-year-old Michael Agerter shot in the head and back. Agerter was seated in his car, parked in his garage. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police soon discovered that Agerter was on the phone with his younger sister at the time he was murdered.

Police discovered Agerter had a home surveillance system at his residence. After watching some recorded footage, detectives saw what appeared to be a female subject walking quickly from a white minivan parked across the street from Agerter’s house just after he pulled into his garage. The subject was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, dark pants and shoes, gloves, and carrying papers in one hand with a bag draped over her shoulder. The subject was outside the views of the cameras briefly, then reappeared and scurried back across the street to the white minivan and sped away. Police ran a background check on Agerter and discovered that he had been in several legal disputes with the defendant, Kathryn Sinkevitch.

Agerter and Sinkevitch were romantically involved until they broke up in March 2016. In April 2016, Agerter was granted an order of protection in Maricopa County Superior Court against Sinkevitch. Records show Agerter made efforts to conceal his new address from Sinkevitch. Police also discovered Michael filed a motion to establish paternity and requested parenting time for his and Sinkevitch’s son, who was born in October. Agerter never saw his son before he was murdered, and the paternity results later confirmed he was the boy’s father.

During the investigation, police tracked Sinkevitch to a residence belonging to her friend and co-worker. Sinkevitch’s gray Mitsubishi Mirage and her co-worker’s white Chrysler Town and Country were parked outside the residence. The van appeared identical to the van seen on Agerter’s home surveillance system. Sinkevitch’s co-worker denied driving to Maricopa during the afternoon of Agerter’s murder. Upon reviewing workplace surveillance video, detectives discovered Sinkevitch was not at work all day as she claimed in an earlier interview. Police confirmed Sinkevitch had ample time to drive to Agerter’s house, commit the murder, and return to work. Police arrested Sinkevitch in Avondale, Arizona on December 21, 2016, after receiving a tip. Witnesses told police Sinkevitch owned a handgun, but a gun was never located.

“We agree with defense counsel’s assessment that the defendant received a fair trial. As reflected by the fact that they deliberated over 2 days before returning a verdict, it is clear that the jurors took their responsibilities very seriously. However, we disagree that any legal errors were committed during the trial that are likely to result in the defendant’s conviction being overturned on appeal,” Jensvold said.

Sinkevitch will be sentenced on June 6, 2019, at Pinal County Superior Courthouse. At that time, she will receive a natural life sentence.

 

Statement from the Agerter Family:

“On behalf of Mike’s friends and family, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone involved in achieving this verdict. From the first officer on site that continuously talked to Mike even though it was clear he was gone, through the ranks to Detective Dennison, Deputy County Attorneys David Ahl and Shawn Jensvold, we thank you. The behind the scenes effort, work and support given by Paralegal Christine Forbes and Victim Advocate Sonia Campos were incredibly invaluable to our family throughout this two-year ordeal. The team spent countless hours away from their families so ours would finally attain peace. Also, to the jurors who were tasked with making the painful decision of enacting justice for Mike. He took every legal precaution to protect himself and was trying to do the same for his child. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. Mike’s attempt to protect the child he never met escalated her aggression towards him, ultimately leading to his death.”

Man Sentenced to 60 Days, Plus Probation for Animal Cruelty

FLORENCE, Ariz. (April 11, 2019) –  Judge Pro Tem Jack Pritt of the Western Pinal Justice Court found Wayne Miller guilty of 14 counts of Animal Cruel following a bench trial on February 15, 2019.  Miller was sentenced on April 10, 2019, to 60 days jail and three years’ probation and is not to possess any animals during that time period.

During the trial, evidence revealed Miller had 14 dogs locked up at his rural Maricopa property.  Upon executing a search warrant, Animal Control Officers found layers of animal feces, trash, torn furniture, car batteries, and other items littering the property.   Additionally, officers noted there was no drinkable water and food was intermixed with feces and trash lining the floor.  The dogs were aggressive to one another and were clawing their way at the interior walls that led to the outside.  A carcass of one dead dog was food for other dogs on the property.

Deputy County Attorney Chad Heywood prosecuted the case.

“The conditions these animals were kept in was deplorable, and my goal in this prosecution was to make sure no other animals had to suffer the same fate at the hands of this Defendant,” Heywood said.

This was the second animal cruelty conviction for Miller.  His first conviction stemmed from an incident that occurred in October 2017.  He was convicted on his first offense in May 2018.

If you suspect animal cruelty, please contact Pinal County Animal Control at 520-509-3555.  For calls after hours, please contact the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Update: Pinal County Attorney’s Office Statement on Hackney charges

 Pinal County Attorney’s Office Indicts Woman Accused of Child Abuse

 

UPDATE 2: FLORENCE, Ariz. (April 8, 2019) – A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Ryan and Logan Hackney on April 8, 2019.  At this time, Pinal County Attorney’s Office has chosen not to charge Ryan or Logan Hackney. However, the investigation into Ryan and Logan Hackney’s role in the case, if any, is on-going.

 

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UPDATE: FLORENCE, Ariz. (March 25, 2019) – City of Maricopa resident, Machelle Hobson (47), was indicted by a grand jury on Monday, March 25, 2019. The Pinal County Attorney’s Office has charged Hobson with 30 counts for her alleged actions involving five juveniles in the case.

“After a full and fair evaluation of all known facts and all known evidence, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office is confident these charges reflect the criminal actions perpetrated by Ms. Hobson. This office is committed to fairly and impartially administering justice for all those involved,” County Attorney Kent Volkmer said.

Victim 1

One count Kidnapping, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children; two counts of Child Abuse, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children, and two counts of Child Abuse, a class 4 felony;

Victim 2

One count Kidnapping, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; three counts Child Abuse, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; three counts Child Abuse, a class 4 felony;

Victim 3

One count Aggravated Assault, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; one count Kidnapping, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; one count Child Abuse, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; three counts Child Abuse, a class 4 felony; one count Child Abuse, a class 6 felony;

Victim 4

One count Kidnapping, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; one count Child Abuse, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; four counts Child Abuse, a class 4 felony;

Victim 5

One count Child Abuse, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; one count Kidnapping, a class 2 Dangerous Crime Against Children felony; three counts Child Abuse, a class 4 felony;

Hobson’s arraignment is set to take place at the Pinal County Superior Courthouse on Friday, March 29th at 8:30 a.m.

 

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Original Press Release

FLORENCE, Ariz. (March 18, 2019) – Pinal County Attorney’s Office is evaluating the child abuse allegations against City of Maricopa resident Machelle Hobson, 47.  We were first alerted to the police investigation and underlying allegations by City of Maricopa Police Department. On March 15, 2019, Hackney, and her two biological children 27-year-old Logan and 25-year-old Ryan Hackney, were taken into custody by local law enforcement.

Pinal County Attorney’s Office takes child abuse allegations very seriously.  We are conducting a comprehensive review of the investigation to determine the most appropriate way to proceed forward with formal charges. While the allegations are highly disturbing and alarming, all three defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

“Children are our community’s most precious resource, and this office is committed to holding those individuals who choose to harm them fully accountable for their actions,” County Attorney Kent Volkmer said.

 

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