PCAO staff gift more than 200 presents to kids as part of DCS Angel Tree

FLORENCE, AZ - More than 200 gifts are on their way to children in need this holiday season, thanks to the incredible generosity of PCAO staff.

For the seventh year, the Pinal County Attorney's Office took part in a 'Angel Tree' in partnership with DCS. The idea formed seven years ago, as County Attorney Volkmer wanted to help an overlooked population in need. The gifts purchased by staff for the Angel Tree go to help children who are in DCS' legal care, but remain in the physical care of their family. Oftentimes, these families don't have the financial resources to provide or purchase gifts. Thus, staff from the Pinal County Attorney's Office 'adopt' some of the kids over the holidays. DCS, through their caseworkers, identify families that have little financial resources and kids that are likely to receive no presents for the holidays.  They then work with the kids and their families to create a wishlist, which PCAO staff can use to buy gifts the kids will most enjoy.

This year, staff purchased more than 200 gifts for children in need.

"I continue to be amazed and am so proud of our team who stepped up this holiday season to truly help the most vulnerable in our community," said County Attorney Kent Volkmer. "It is my sincere hope that these presents help to lift the spirits and provide a little joy and happiness to these children."

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Indictment Returned in Murder of Teen in San Tan Valley

FLORENCE, AZ (December 15th, 2023) – The Office of Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer announced a grand jury indictment against a defendant in the murder of a San Tan Valley teen in November.

On November 28th, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting in San Tan Valley that resulted in the death of Jamiere Jenkins, 17. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office conducted a criminal investigation and forwarded a submittal to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.

Upon reviewing all of the evidence and relevant facts, PCAO convened a grand jury, which returned an indictment against the following defendant:

Anthony Jason Garcia (17)        (ARS 13-1104A2) Second Degree Murder

This case is taking place in adult court under CR 202302662.

“We have seen far too many young lives impacted and cut short due to youth violence,” said County Attorney Kent Volkmer. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted, and it is my sincere hope that our youth begin to appreciate and recognize the inherent value in every human life.”

As this is now is now a pending case, PCAO does not have any further comment at this time.

As a reminder, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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PCAO Diversion Program touted for its success, national recognition

FLORENCE, AZ (November 15th, 2023) - County Attorney Volkmer updated the Board of Supervisors Wednesday about the success of the Diversion Program and the national recognition that it recently received in improving behavioral health outcomes.

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office Diversion Program allows eligible defendants to earn a dismissal of the charge if they successfully complete a set of criteria tailored to their individual case and circumstances.

On Wednesday, County Attorney Volkmer informed the Board of Supervisors that in August, the program was chosen as one of the 10 inaugural programs that will serve as model examples for the national Criminal Justice-Mental Health Learning Site Program.

Essentially, PCAO will be looked to for sharing expertise and knowledge with other criminal justice and mental health agencies and organizations about how to run a diversion program.

“That is an amazing accomplishment,” Volkmer said.

Volkmer noted the unique differences to PCAO’s Diversion Program, such as relying much more on a battery of assessments to identify, and thus treat, the underlying issue, rather than setting participants on a predetermined tract. A team of Diversion Officers works closely alongside the participants to ensure compliance in the program and that they are getting all of the resources they need.

Volkmer noted the old tale of ‘humpty dumpty,’ in that we’ve all fallen and broken, and needed to be made whole again.

“How can we help fill in those gaps and help fill in those pieces?” Volkmer said of those entering the program.

Volkmer noted the recidivism rate for those who go to prison is 83% within nine years of release, according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The recidivism rate is less than 5% for those who complete the PCAO Diversion Program.

“We should be doing everything we can to ensure they never come back [to the criminal justice system],” said Volkmer.

Nearly 3,500 people have entered the Diversion Program, with 83% successfully completing the program and having all charges dismissed.

Volkmer touted the national recognition as a clear sign that Pinal County is a shining example for other agencies looking to start a similar program.

“[It says] look at Pinal County, they do it right, they are actually focused on behavioral health outcomes,” Volkmer said. “’They are [saying] nationally, come look at them.”

The Diversion Program is set for future growth, such as by expansion into city courts, and the inclusion of additional programs, among other items.

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Winners announced in 33rd Annual Anti-Drug Poster Contest

(CASA GRANDE, AZ) - Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the winners of the annual anti-drug poster contest, aimed at leaving community youth with a lasting anti-drug message.

The awards ceremony for the 33rd Annual Anti-Drug Poster Contest, put on by the Pinal County Attorney's Office, took place on Thursday, November 9th at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande. Hundreds of family and friends gathered to celebrate the top-40 participants. The top-10 and top-3 winners were also announced.

The annual Anti-Drug Poster Contest is dedicated to the memory of Judge Robert Bean, who created the concept more than three decades ago.

More than 800 6th-grade students from across Pinal County took part in the contest. Superior Court judges picked the top-3. The goal of the contest is to teach youth about the dangers of drugs, especially fentanyl, which can all too easily reach children.

County Attorney Kent Volkmer was the master of ceremonies for the evening, but it also featured speakers Amy Neville and Misty Terrigino, two parents who each dealt with the death of one of their children who unknowingly ingested a pill containing fentanyl.

The Pinal County Attorney's Office appreciates all students who took part in the contest and hope the anti-drug message resonates with them for life.

The winners of the 33rd Annual Anti-Drug Post Contest:

Overall Winner: Shelby S. / Legacy Traditional School

 

Best Message: Myelle L. / Eduprize

 

Best Artwork: Georgina / Eduprize

 

 

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Hundreds attend inaugural Family Resource Event

(COOLIDGE, AZ) - Roughly 400 people attended an inaugural Family Resource Event in Coolidge, which connected families with an array of vital resources and information.

In conjunction with many partner agencies and organizations, the Pinal County Attorney's Office helped host the inaugural event on Saturday, November 4th in Coolidge. The free event allowed attendees to receive haircuts, sports physicals, winter clothes, food, free workshop classes on financial literacy and other topics, and much more.

In all, 50 people received haircuts, more than a thousand pieces of clothing made it to community members and roughly 400 people attended.

A big thank you to all of our partners, including Nextera Energy, SRP, United Way, Casa Grande Alliance, Compassion Connect AZ and Imagine Schools Coolidge.

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Family Resource Event coming to Coolidge November 4th

COOLIDGE, AZ - A family resource event is coming to Coolidge to help residents with food and necessities.

On November 4th, 2023, multiple agencies and organizations will provide resources to residents, including dental screenings, legal aide, sports physicals, haircuts and a variety of classes. Winter clothing and diapers will also be available. The entire event, and all resources, are free to those who attend.

What: Family Resource Event

When: Saturday, November 4th from 9:00am - 2:00pm

Where: Imagine Schools Coolidge (1290 W. Vah Ki Inn Rd)

In addition to the many resources, classes on effective communication, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, among others, will also be offered during the day.

The Pinal County Attorney's Office is partnering with multiple organizations, including SRP, Compassion Connect AZ, Nextera Energy, Casa Grande Alliance and  United Way.

PCS Resource Event - White Flyer 8.5x11 (1)

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Florence man sentenced to 22 years for deadly crossover crash while driving high

FLORENCE, AZ (October 11, 2023) - A Florence man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing a woman after driving under the influence of methamphetamine, crossing the center line and crashing head on into the victim’s vehicle.  

On October 11th, 2023, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Steven Fuller sentenced Dwayne Endicott, 56, to an aggravated sentence of 22 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

A jury found Endicott guilty of Manslaughter, a Class Two Felony; Possession or use of Dangerous Drugs (methamphetamine), a Class Four Felony; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a Class Six Felony; and Endangerment, a Class One Misdemeanor.

On April 27th, 2022, at roughly 10:00am, a multiple vehicle collision occurred along SR-387. The Department of Public Safety responded to the crash and investigators determined a red 2015 Chevy Camaro crossed the center line, side swiped one vehicle and then crashed head on into a 2015 Jeep Compass. Endicott was identified as the driver of the Camaro and transported to the hospital for his injuries.

The driver of the Jeep Compass, identified as Sabrina Echols, 30, was pronounced deceased on scene.

During the investigation, troopers located a crystal substance in Endicott’s vehicle, which later tested positive for methamphetamine. Endicott also stated he had long been using methamphetamine. A blood draw on Endicott confirmed methamphetamine in his system.

“This tragic case shows the avoidable repercussions of getting high and getting behind the wheel,” said County Attorney Kent Volkmer. "You have one life lost, but many others forever altered."

Dashcam video from the vehicle that was side-swiped shows Endicott crossing over the center line and nearly colliding with that vehicle, before hitting Echols’ vehicle, which was behind the driver with the dashcam. 

At sentencing, loved ones emotionally remembered Echols for her infectious smile and personality and described how her death has significantly affected their lives. 

 

 

 

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PCAO recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

FLORENCE, AZ (October 2nd, 2023) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office is putting a spotlight on victims, their resilience in what they’ve overcome, and highlighting available resources.

In 2022, the Pinal County Attorney’s Victim Services Division provided services to more than 2,200 victims of domestic violence.

“[Domestic violence] leaves scars that are not always visible, but are always deeply felt,” said County Attorney Kent Volkmer.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a way to unite advocates from across the country, while highlighting available resources.

“We must stand together to recognize and support survivors who have endured this trauma,” Volkmer said.

Volkmer noted that it’s believed nearly 70% of domestic violence incidents are not reported to authorities.

The Pinal County Attorney’s Office joined A New Leaf and the Apache Junction Police Department for a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk and Family Day to kickoff this important month.

The main speaker at this year’s kickoff event was Vanessa Martinez, a survivor who bravely told her story.

“I’m blessed because I’m actually blessed to be here and to be alive today,” Martinez said.

Martinez detailed a terrifying, and nearly fatal, incident when her ex shot her in the head on September 11th, 2021, the same day as her daughter’s birthday party.

“[I] start to enter my home and my ex approaches me with a crazed look in his eye,” she said.

Martinez said her ex accused her of being with another man, and pulled out a gun and shot her in the head, just beneath her right temple lobe.

“I flatlined in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” Martinez said.

Martinez shared her story to inspire others and to let other victims know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She knows all too well how difficult it is to escape a bad situation.

“I hate that question, ‘why did you stay? Why didn’t you just leave?” she said. “Because leaving is easier said than done.”

Martinez has physically recovered, but is focused on a mission of helping other victims.

“Helping others in the situation that I was in is my motivation,” Martinez said. “You’re not alone.”

Martinez is determined to help anyone and everyone she can reach.

“I believe my story can and will change many lives,” she said.  “I’m here for a reason.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-7233.

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Final 2023 Citizens Academy set for October 21st

(FLORENCE, AZ) - The Pinal County Attorney’s Office is now accepting registrations for the third and final Citizens Academy of the year.

The Citizens Academy will take place on Saturday, October 21st from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The PCAO Citizens Academy is an immersive experience designed to give attendees an in-depth look at how charging decisions are made and the role of prosecutors in the criminal justice system.

“This is an excellent opportunity for folks to come, see what we do as prosecutors and how we navigate difficult charging decisions,” said County Attorney Kent Volkmer.

The Citizens Academy features detailed presentations from the County Attorney and another prosecutor in the office, a chance to see the evidence and review several cases prosecuted by PCAO, take part in Q & A, use a shooting simulator to experience the type of encounters law enforcement are often presented with, and tour the county jail.

“We try to make this as in-depth an experience as possible to give those who attend an accurate reflection of how our office works and dispel any rumors about the criminal justice system,” Volkmer said.

What: Citizens Academy

When: Saturday, October 21st from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: PCAO Office (971 N. Jason Lopez Circle, Florence, AZ)

PCAO held three Citizens Academies in 2022 and two so far in 2023 and received very positive feedback. We hope those who attend this year find it a fun and educational experience.

Those who are interested in registering for the October 21st Citizens Academy can do so HERE.

Citizens Academy October 21st

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Casa Grande man sentenced to 28 years for murder of Good Samaritan who tried to break up fight

FLORENCE, AZ (September 28th, 2023) - A Casa Grande man has been sentenced to 28 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for the murder of an innocent bystander who tried to break up a fight between the suspect and the suspect’s girlfriend.

On September 28th, 2023, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Daniel Washburn sentenced Giovanni Olivieri, 24, to 28 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections, followed by community supervision.

A jury found Olivieri guilty of Second Degree Murder, a Class One Felony; Endangerment, a Class Six Felony;  Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm Within City Limits, a Class Six Felony; Disorderly Conduct, a Class One Misdemeanor; and Assault, a Class Two Misdemeanor.

The jury found 12 aggravating factors in this case and the judge determined the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.

In September, 2021, the Casa Grande Police Department responded to a hotel in the 700 block of North Pinal Avenue for reports of a shooting. Officers located an injured man on the ground in the parking lot, along with multiple shell casings. Witnesses told officers that the suspect, later identified as Olivieri, was arguing with his girlfriend in the parking lot and even grabbed her by the hair and neck area and dragged her across the lot.

During the altercation, another man, Brian Robinette, 35, came across the parking lot and approached the couple in an attempt to get Olivieri to let go of his girlfriend. Robinette did not know the couple and was an innocent bystander trying to help. When approached, Olivieri let go of his girlfriend and shot Robinette. In total, Olivieri shot Robinette eight times.

There were multiple witnesses to the shooting, who were also endangered by the gunfire. The incident was captured on surveillance video.

At sentencing, loved ones remembered Robinette as a loving father to two kids, someone who loved music and playing guitar, and those who spoke expressed the huge emotional impact Robinette’s death has left on his family and friends.

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