The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has been contacted by both media and the public over the past few weeks inquiring about the number of violent crime cases not charged by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff Babeu and members of our staff have had repeated discussions with both County Attorney James Walsh and his staff members about our concerns related to his failure to hold those who commit violent crimes responsible for their actions and the affect it will have on public safety in Pinal County.
In fact, law enforcement is being told by suspects they know to come to Pinal County to commit their crimes because they know that they will only get probation if they are busted.
On Thursday, October 4th, 2012 Sheriff Babeu sent the attached letter to Mr. Walsh further highlighting this issue and he provided numerous examples of cases.
On Saturday, October 6th, 2012 the Arizona Republic wrote a story about this same issue. See the below link for additional information. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2012/09/28/20120928pinal-county-attorneyrace- intensifies.html
Since there have been so many inquiries related to this issue and requests to learn more about it on Monday, October 8th at 2 p.m. several of our members who have been affected by these cases are willing to sit down talk about these cases with members of the media. The meeting will be at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office which is located at 971 Jason Lopez Circle, Florence.
The deputies, detectives and supervisors will talk about many of the cases listed in the attached letter to Mr. Walsh and share others as well and give their perspective on how it affects public safety for our deputies and the citizens we serve.
||Pinal County Sheriff’s Office|
October 4th, 2012
Pinal County Attorney’s Office Attn: James Walsh 30 North Florence Street Building D Florence, AZ 85132
Re: Violent Offenders Getting Probation
Dear Mr. Walsh,
While this letter may come at a very political time of year, this topic could not be further from politics. There is nothing more important than the realization of my request herein. Recently, with the death of Denise Padilla-Shaw, it became ever so apparent that you have done very little to secure the safety of our Pinal families. As such, having myself, sworn an oath to serve and protect, I feel that it is my responsibility to inform you that despite my best efforts, people are dying in Pinal County as a direct result of your failure to prosecute violent felons.
You took an oath to administer justice. Similar to former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, you have never personally prosecuted a felony case. Therefore, you do not have an adequate understanding of how to prosecute. The major difference between Mr. Thomas and you is that Mr. Thomas made up for his lack of prosecutorial experience by relying on an overzealous subordinate. Unfortunately, you fall on the far extreme side of the spectrum by not pursuing most of the dangerous individuals in Pinal County. I’m afraid that your actions are far more harmful to the citizens of Pinal County, than former Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas’ actions were to himself. On the one hand, we have a disbarred attorney. On the one other hand, we have people being murdered. Without knowing how to administer justice, your oath to administer justice, remains hollow.
Therefore, I’m looking for a solution to this massive problem. First of all, there are far too many cases that you and your office refuse to prosecute. Secondly, once the cases are charged, your office failed to properly prosecute, sixty-one percent of defendants charged with mandatory prison charges, making them the most dangerous people on our streets, instead they were either released on probation or their cases are getting completely dismissed. This sixty-one percent would be greatly increased if we were to count all of the mandatory prison charges involving violent dangerous crimes that you have refused to prosecute. The following, are examples of only a few of the many cases, most of which, never even made it as far as charging, which in-turn, can only increase the number of dangerous individuals that will eventually end up back on our streets. I. Bryan Shaw
In 1989, in Pinal County, when Shaw turned 18 years old, he was arrested for Attempted 1st Degree Murder. He eventually accepted a plea agreement, for a probation eligible offense. He received 5 years of probation, violating that probation almost immediately and getting sentenced to 3.75 years in prison. II. Hilario Gonzales-Soliz
Soon after Shaw was released from prison, his violent crimes continued, namely for misdemeanor domestic violence but also getting arrested for Armed Robbery. He soon moved to Maricopa County.
In 2001, Maricopa County prosecutors convicted Shaw at trial for another dangerous felony. This came after Shaw decided that he didn’t want to take a plea, which also happened to be a domestic violence offense, in Mesa, AZ. That crime arose from an aggravated assault, again with a gun, against the mother of his 3 children, “Veronica”. After trial and prior to the time of sentencing, Shaw recounted the crime to the Presentence Report Investigator, Lynn Smithson saying, in part, that “Veronica” was fearful on the night of that crime because she believed that he was going to kill her when he returned to get items from their house. Smithson quoted Shaw in her report, as responding to “Veronica’s” fear by saying, “No, what the f* am I going to kill you for, we have kids together. I would kill both of us before I just killed you.”
After serving 7.5 years in prison for that dangerous and violent crime, he returned to Pinal County.
In 2011, Shaw was arrested for threatening to shoot his uncle here in Pinal County. Your office refused to charge the Aggravated Assault (Dangerous) and Threatening or Intimidating charges and only charged the Misconduct Involving Weapons charge. That by itself changed the case from a mandatory prison case to a probation eligible case if the allegation of prior felony convictions is dropped, which your office did.
In 2012, this year, Shaw received probation for that otherwise, mandatory prison case. In the plea agreement, the County Attorney specifically agreed to not bring charges for Aggravated Assault or Threatening or Intimidating. In the police report, it is evident that an Aggravated Assault occurred.
In preparation for sentencing, Shaw’s most recent probation officer, Diana F. Harris, in her March 19, 2012, presentence report, correctly stated, “The victim in all of his (Shaw’s) domestic violence convictions between 1996 and 2001 was the mother of his (Shaw’s) three oldest children.” She also points out that, “He (Shaw) has four prior violent convictions.” If Shaw had been charged and convicted of the Aggravated Assault, Class 3 Dangerous, with one prior dangerous felony conviction, Shaw would have been sentenced to an absolute minimum of 14 years in prison.
Deputy Heath Rankin was involved in a high speed pursuit of a vehicle with four occupants. The vehicle was traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph. The driver attempted to evade the deputy by pulling into a hotel parking lot. While pulling into the parking lot, the driver almost struck a family but instead collided into their vehicle they were walking towards. All four occupants of the vehicle then fled on foot. III. Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Sandoval
Deputy Rankin was still the only unit on scene. He cleared the vehicle and then gave chase after the suspects while providing responding units the description of the suspects. Deputy Rankin was able to catch up to Hilario Gonzales Soliz and ordered him to stop running. Soliz turned and faced off with Deputy Rankin in a fighting stance. Deputy Rankin and Soliz immediately engaged in a physical fight. During the fight, Deputy Rankin sustained a broken hand. The injury he sustained prevented him from full use of his hand for over one year.
Two of the other suspects were later taken into custody. The vehicle contained over 400 pounds of packaged marijuana for sale. Soliz was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana for Sale, Transportation of Marijuana for Sale, Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer and Resisting Arrest.
The plea offer made to Lopez, despite our objection, was for one count of Possession of Marijuana. All of the other charges were dropped by your office. Adding insult to injury, your office told my Deputy he was “surprised Deputy Rankin wasn’t charged for blatantly punching” the suspect. My deputy was forced into a physical confrontation and he used physical force to defend himself and your office wants to tell my deputy he is “surprised Deputy Rankin wasn’t charged for blatantly punching” the suspect.
On August 16th, 2010 the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call from a child indicating her father and another man was trying to break into the home where she and her mother lived. The father did not reside at the residence. VI. Alejandro Stalter
Deputy Heath Rankin and Deputy Jesus Lopez responded. As they approached the residence, Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Sandoval pointed a handgun at them and pulled the trigger to your office so you could see the severity of the assault. After being beaten, Cross dragged the victim out of his cell, down a flight of stairs and left him by a door.
The victim was beaten so severely he had to be air lifted to the Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix for treatment.
Our office submitted charges of Aggravated Assault to your office. On September 25th we were notified your office was going to “decline charges as part of a plea agreement” on an unrelated case involving armed robbery and kidnapping. In other words, no justice will be done for the victim of this case as his case was dropped by your office.
On January 8th, 2010, Alejandro Stalter (age 18) drove his truck head on into a motorcycle, which was driven by Mark Vernick. Mark was killed instantly as a result of the crash. Roadway and crash evidence clearly showed Alejandro drove left of center and head on into the motorcycle Mark was driving. V. Brandon Maguire
Alejandro admitted to deputies, after being read his Miranda Rights, that he did “cocaine” the previous day.
A Drug Recognition Expert conducted a “Drug Impairment Evaluation” – otherwise known as a DRE – on Alejandro a few hours after the collision had occurred. The evaluation, which evaluates both clinical and physical signs of impairment, showed Alejandro was impaired by a “CNS Stimulant and Marijuana.”
A blood test was obtained and later tested by the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Laboratory. The test showed the presence of “Benzoylecgonine” which is a metabolite of cocaine. The blood test confirmed there was 54 ng/ml of the cocaine metabolite in his system at the time the blood was drawn. The blood was drawn nearly 2 ½ hours after Alejandro caused the collision which killed Mark Vernick. The Arizona Department of Public Safety Criminalist stated that the cutoff level for their lab to confirm the presence of benzoylecgonine in blood is 20 to 25 ng/ml. As you can see, Alejandro had twice the amount in his system.
Your office declined all charges on this case and closed it until my staff met with members of your staff and pointed out factual inaccuracies with the information your office used to justify their decision not to charge. In fact, we offered to provide a prosecutor from another agency who had agreed to prosecute the case if your office refused.
In the end, your office was forced to do your job because of the pressure to prosecute the suspect for the homicide he committed.
On August 29th, 2010 at 9:40 p.m. Deputy Robert Taylor was dispatched to assist paramedics with a subject. Brandon Maguire assaulted paramedics and punched Deputy Taylor in the face. Maguire continued to resist arrest and punched Deputy Taylor several more times while he attempted to arrest him. Deputy Taylor was in his full duty uniform at the time and had identified himself as a deputy. V1. Anthony Urquides
Maguire was taken to a local hospital where he was medically cleared to be booked into our Adult Detention Center. He was booked for two counts of Aggravated Assault (one for the paramedic and one for the deputy) and Resisting Arrest.
He received only one year of probation from your office as part of his plea offer and he was released from probation early.
On January 26th, 2012 at 10:47 p.m. Deputy Robert Taylor was dispatched to a suspicious vehicle call. Deputy Taylor attempted to stop the vehicle but the vehicle fled. A pursuit was initiated and Deputy Taylor chased the vehicle for 3 miles through a residential area before it stopped. Urquides was taken into custody. Additional Cases
Inside of Urquides vehicle was a loaded AK-47 with two magazines, a drug transaction ledger and a large sum of cash.
Urquides was booked for Aggravated Assault from a prior weapons case out of Eloy. The charges were submitted to your office along with a charge of Unlawful Flight. Urquides was already on probation at this time and once again only received probation for this offense from your office.
: Prior to writing this letter, I have taken the time to read nearly 600 pages of summaries of the cases which your office handled through 2010. In 2011, your office continued this pattern of releasing the most violent offenders. Contained in the cases below are further examples, most of which are merely out of the first 40 pages of 600 pages of case summaries from 2010, which highlight the weak prosecution your office has earned a reputation for. Some of these cases included a small amount of jail time but none of them included prison.
Kidnapping with a Deadly Weapon - S1100CR200901261 & S1100CR200901262 (both defendants were allowed to earn misdemeanors)
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Shooting at a Police Officer) - S1100CR200801978 (given probation)
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon - S1100CR201100295 (given probation)
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR201101237 This was Defendant’s second violent offense within 14 months: - at the time of this offense, HE WAS ALREADY ON PROBATION for what should have been a dangerous offense: S1100CR201000781 (given probation)
Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200900992 (Probation)
Burglary 1st Degree/Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200900993 (Probation)
Manslaughter/DUI: S1100CR200901003 (Dismissed w/o prejudice)
Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200901097 (Probation)
Armed Robbery with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200901097 (Probation)
Assisting Criminal Syndicate: S1100CR200901148 (Probation)
Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200901208 (Probation)
Kidnapping and Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon: S1100CR200901211 (Probation)
Because of this serious threat to our Pinal families, I must turn for help outside of our usual process if you continue with these lax policies on our most violent offenders. Your lack of experience in criminal prosecution sets all of the citizens up in Pinal County for repeat violent offenders returning to the streets. In fact, my deputies and other police agencies are being told by defendants they know to come to Pinal County to commit their crimes because they know that they will only get probation if they are busted. This absolute lack of prosecution places all of us, in Pinal County, in peril.
I am requesting we set up a meeting this week between you and members of our office who have been involved with some of these cases as they would like to talk with you personally and let you know how your lack of prosecution has affected public safety in Pinal County and made their jobs much more difficult.
Paul Babeu, Sheriff
Pinal County, Arizona