Entries in Arizona (224)


Mom of Missing Arizona Girl Charged with Murder

Hemera/Thinkstock(GLENDALE, Ariz.) -- The mother of Jahessye Shockley, a 5-year-old Arizona girl who has been missing for nearly a year, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse and first-degree murder for her daughter's death.

"For the past 11 months, the men and women of the Glendale Police Department and our partners from local, state and federal law enforcement worked tirelessly to accomplish two goals: to find Jahessye and to hold the person responsible for her disappearance accountable," Glendale Chief of Police Debora Black said in a statement.

They have yet to find Jahessye, but Black said authorities were confident they would achieve their second goal with the arrest of Jerice Hunter on Thursday.

Shockley was first reported missing nearly a year ago on Oct. 11, 2011. After an initial investigation and an extensive search, Hunter was arrested on Nov. 21 on suspicion of child abuse. She was later released and no charges were filed.

Authorities are tight-lipped about what evidence led to this week's arrest and charges.

"[The] investigation has turned up information and evidence of varying kinds and when it was re-submitted to our office for review, we felt that there was enough evidence there to support the charges handed up in the indictment," Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb told ABC News Friday.

"I can't get into any specifics about the nature or type of evidence," he said.

Hunter's attorney Scott Maasen takes issue with the lack of transparency in the alleged evidence against his client.

"They don't have a body. They haven't found Jahessye," he said. "When you have a case where it takes that much time, it really calls into question the believability, the reliability, of whatever type of evidence they have."

Maasen that he met with Hunter in jail and that she is "in good spirits, considering the circumstances."

"She has maintained her innocence from day one when she reported her missing almost a year ago," Maasen said. "In every conversation I've had with her, she's been steadfast in that."

He is "confident" that Hunter will be exonerated once he receives the evidence in the case.

Investigators did not find Shockleys' body after a four-month search of the Butterfield Station Landfill in Mobile, but maintain that her body is in a landfill.

Jahessye was last seen by her three older siblings at their apartment building while Hunter said she was out running an errand. She said she left her three older children doing chores in the backyard and locked Jahessye inside so she would be safe.

Hunter's four other children, ages 6, 9, 13 and an infant, are in state custody, according to authorities.

Hunter's criminal history of allegedly abusing her children drew public suspicion to what role, if any, she might have played in her daughter's disappearance.

Hunter was charged with child abuse in 2006. According to court documents, Hunter was "accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children" in California. Her children told police that Hunter would punch them and whip them, sometimes using extension cords.

Maasen said that the children later changed their stories.

Police said Hunter's ex-husband George Shockley also participated in the alleged abuse. He is currently in prison following his conviction as a sex offender.

Convicted of four counts of child abuse in the 2006 case, Hunter was sentenced to eight years in a California prison and lost an appeal. Prosecutors dropped the torture charges in exchange for a plea of no contest, according to ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV. However, it is unclear why Hunter was released early from prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Judge Rules in Favor of Arizona's 'Show Me Your Papers' Provision

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Authorities in Arizona will shortly begin enforcing the "show me your papers" provision of the state's controversial immigration law, SB 1070.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled on Wednesday that after stopping someone for violating another law, police officers can question the legal status of individuals if they think they might be in the country illegally.

The decision follows a two-year court battle that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the requirement in June.

In a statement Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer hailed the court ruling, saying it's been a long time coming.

"Today, Arizona is one big step closer to implementing the core provision of SB 1070.  I applaud the federal court for siding with the U.S. Supreme Court in refusing to block the most critical section of this law, which will empower state and local law enforcement, as part of a legal stop or detention, to inquire about an individual’s immigration status when the officer has reasonable suspicion," Brewer said.

"After more than two years of legal challenges, it is time that Section 2(B) of SB 1070 take effect. Given today’s ruling, along with the federal court’s suggestion that it intends in the very near future to formally lift the existing injunction, it is clear the day of implementation is fast approaching," she continued.

While Brewer said the provision "must be enforced efficiently, effectively and in harmony with the Constitution and civil rights," critics contend it will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Caught on Tape: Arizona Man Hit by Truck Survives

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHANDLER, Ariz.) -- Police in Chandler, Ariz., are looking for two teenage girls who they say are responsible for a hit-and-run that injured a 26-year-old man.

Luckily, Steven Bright only suffered a broken right hand and bruised ribs from the incident, something he thinks is “amazing.”  At the time of the hit-and-run, Bright thought his life was over.

“I remember thinking in my head this is it pretty much.  I’m going be thrown off this truck and I’m done,” Bright told ABC News.

Bright and his brother were walking near Carson Elementary School on Aug. 4 when they say two girls in a white pickup truck started throwing water balloons at them.  Bright said that at first he thought they were throwing rocks.

That’s when Bright and his brother crossed in front of the truck to get out of the line of fire when the driver stepped on the gas.  Bright’s brother was able to escape, but the truck snagged Bright’s shirt and dragged him under the tires.

“I could hear the girls screaming in the car.  I actually saw the two girls in the vehicle when I was flying over the front driver side of the truck,” said Bright.  “I was yelling ‘Hey, stop.  Stop.  Stop’ and they just would not stop.”

As for the driver, police have the incident on tape thanks to surveillance video that Carson Elementary captured.  Police say the driver could face charges of aggravated assault.

“It’s a very serious incident.  What’s more important is the fact that we are really seeking these two individuals out so we can really hear their version of what happened,” said Det. Seth Tyler of the Chandler police department.

Bright is putting up $2,000 of his own money for information leading to the arrest of the driver, according to ABC News affiliate ABC 15.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Arizona Siblings Marry Same Day in 'Mega Wedding'

Altrendo images/Thinkstock(Mesa, Ariz.) -- All eyes might have been on France this weekend for the rumored wedding of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie that went bust, but a pretty spectacular wedding took place Friday in Mesa, Ariz.
Not one, not two, but five of eight siblings from one Arizona family said their "I Do's" in what has been dubbed the " Mega Wedding."
The Waldies (Sydney, 25; Brooke, 20; Bradford, 26; Walker, 24 and Emily, 28) all got engaged within one month of each other: Sydney to Doug, Walker to Jillian, Emily to William, Bradford to Megan and Brooke to Todd. So Doug Waldie, their father, came up with the biggest proposal yet: A quintuple wedding.
"Except for Walker, who had dated his new wife in high school, the rest of the couples had just met each other around October of last year," Waldie said. "By December or so, I could see the tidal of waves coming. They were all very, very much in love. So even at that point, I'm thinking to myself, 'I'm never going to be able to afford that many weddings.'"
The siblings and their soon-to-be spouses each had their own opinions of the "Mega Wedding" idea:
"I wanted it and then I didn't want it. I wanted my own day," Walker's wife, Jillian, said;
"My biggest sacrifice is not having it in my backyard," Brooke said;
"We wanted to be together," Sydney said;
"They all eventually came around," Bradford concluded.
Doug Waldie joked that if they hadn't done the combined wedding, the only other option would have been far less appealing, depending on the order of the weddings. "Whoever's in first place is going to get a really nice reception. Whoever's fifth gets $32.50 and a bus ticket to wherever you want to go," he said, laughing.
Eventually, however, all five couples put aside their differences and agreed to the joint effort. The tight-knit family made the decision largely because one son -- and groom -- was required to report to Air Force pilot training at the end of August, and they wanted to be sure he would be able to attend all the ceremonies, according to East Valley Tribune.
"The kids wanted to put their own interests aside. They didn't want to miss being at each others' big days," Doug said.
And with that, many mega-planning sessions and preparations later, the "Mega Wedding" day had finally arrived. Their joint reception was preceded by five individual, private ceremonies, one right after another.
The entire day went without a hitch.
"There was no significant trauma," mom Kristen Waldie said. "Everybody was just so excited to have it all happen. People don't believe me that there really wasn't any drama."
And it was quite a big day for little sister Andee, who was a bridesmaid in four of her siblings' weddings. She proudly donned four different bridesmaids' outfits in a matter of a few hours.
"She was ever-present," Doug Waldie said. "She's the child that loves to be involved with everything. If there's a conversation, she wants to hear about it. She was thrilled. She did have four different pairs of shoes and four different outfits."
Kristen said, "For each of the bride's colors, there was a separate ruffle in her skirt."
There were five separate wedding cakes for each of the newlyweds. Doug was quick to mention his favorite was the chocolate with Oreo-cream icing.
Kristen said, "They all chose their own flavor. One of the cakes was made by Jillian's aunt. And I made the rest of the four."
But all minor details aside, the parents agree it was the love of the family that meant the most that day.
"Really, the thing that made it most important for the event to happen was the love of family," Doug said. "It wasn't financially driven, or organizationally driven, it was the fact our family is so close and we've had such a great family bond.
"Our story is unique because there's five kids involved. This is a story about a family that loves each other, and kids that are willing to sacrifice to be there with family."
All the couples are off enjoying their honeymoons right now, in separate vacation spots.
To see wedding photos from the Mega Wedding, click here.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Expected to Change Plea to Guilty

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The man accused of going on a shooting spree in Tucson, Ariz., last year is expected to change his plea to guilty in federal court Tuesday.

Jared Lee Loughner is charged with killing six people on Jan. 8, 2011, and wounding 13 others, including former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  In March 2011, he pleaded not guilty to 49 counts, including six first-degree murder charges, which carry a possible death sentence upon conviction.

A source familiar with the case told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that Loughner, who has been treated for a mental disorder while under arrest, will receive a term of life in prison in exchange for his new plea.

Despite his illness, mental health officials believe Loughner is competent enough to comprehend the charges against him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Reportedly Set to Plead Guilty

Pima County Sheriff's Department(NEW YORK) -- The man accused in the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is set to plead guilty in court Tuesday, reports the Wall Street Journal.

A source familiar with the case told the newspaper that Jared Lee Loughner, who has been treated for a mental disorder while under arrest, will receive a term of life in prison for his plea.

Despite his illness, mental health officials believe Loughner is competent enough to comprehend the charges against him.

In March 2011, Loughner, 24, pleaded not guilty to 49 counts, including six first-degree murder charges, which carry a possible death sentence upon conviction.

Giffords was meeting with constituents as she regularly did on Jan. 8, 2011 when, police said, Loughner began opening fire with a handgun, striking Giffords at point-blank range.

Among the six people Loughner allegedly murdered were U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, an aide to Giffords, and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.

Giffords is still recovering from a bullet wound to the brain and decided last year not to run for re-election.  One of her closest aides, Ron Barber, who was also wounded in the Tucson shooting, was chosen by voters last June to serve out the remainder of Giffords' terms that ends in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Racial Profiling Trial Begins

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A civil rights trial against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled "America's Toughest Sheriff," began Thursday in which Arpaio and his department stand accused of racially profiling Latinos in Maricopa County.

The class-action suit, which started with a complaint by a retired Mexican schoolteacher who was stopped in Arizona in 2007, has grown to encompass all Latinos who were stopped without probable cause from 2007 until the present.

"It's our view that the problem starts at the top," said Stan Young, an attorney for the plaintiffs, at the start of the federal trial Thursday.

Plaintiffs are not asking for damages, but rather an apology from the department and a change in policy.  If found guilty, Arpaio will not face jail time or fines.

"The point is to reform the practices of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and get them to stop racial profiling people because they're Latino," said Omar Jadwat, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants Rights Project, which is representing the plaintiffs.  "As Americans, we expect we're not going to be stopped because of how we look and sound, that we're not going to be arrested because of our race."

Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres was visiting Arizona from Mexico and had been carrying his visa, Mexican identification and permit when the car he was riding in was pulled over by police in Queen Creek, Ariz., five years ago.  Officers informed him that he was stopped for speeding but did not give him a citation or take him into custody.

Ortega, one of several passengers, was asked to produce identification and obliged.  Even though he produced the necessary papers to prove he was in the country legally, Ortega said he was told to exit the vehicle.

"After exiting the vehicle, the officers pushed Mr. Ortega against a Sheriff's Department vehicle and patted him down over his entire body in a rough manner," court documents stated.

Officers removed everything from Ortega's pockets and kept him handcuffed for 40 minutes before he was driven to the Sheriff's Office in Cave Creek and placed in a holding cell for four hours with no explanation as to why he'd been arrested.  He was not given access to an attorney, phone or food, court documents stated.

He was cuffed again and driven to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Phoenix, where he was once again placed in a holding cell for one hour, according to court documents.  An immigration official took a look at Ortega's identification and told him he was free to go.

"Mr. Ortega is frightened to walk on the street or be seen in public in Maricopa County because he fears that the sheriff's officers will come and arrest him again because he is Hispanic and does not speak English," court documents stated.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

Arpaio is expected to take the stand at some point during the bench trial.

The U.S. Justice Department has also filed a separate suit against Arpaio, alleging discriminatory policing, use of excessive force, running the county's jail unconstitutionally and taking illegal action to silence critics.  A trial date has not been set.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Immigration Groups File Suit Against AZ Immigration Law

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Staying true to their promise, immigration groups are asking a federal judge to block Arizona’s “show me your papers provision” from going into effect.

The provision, which the Supreme Court upheld last month, could go into effect as early as this week.

Last month, the Supreme Court said that section 2(B) of the law — which allows a police officer to request their papers if the officer has a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally– could go into effect, but left open the possibility that other challenges to the law could be brought down the road.

The federal government had brought the challenge arguing that the state law interfered with existing federal law.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “There is a basic uncertainty about what the law means and how it will be enforced. At this stage, without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume [the section of the law] will be construed in a way that creates a conflict with federal law.”

Kennedy said, “This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.”

But immigration groups, who were not a part of the case in front of the Supreme Court, do not want to wait until 2(B) actually goes into effect. They have filed a lawsuit arguing that 2(B) should be blocked for reasons that were not in front of the Supreme Court: racial profiling.

One of the groups, the National Immigration Law Center, released a statement today saying, section 2(B) “unlawfully discriminates against Latinos and individuals of Mexican origin.” They say they have evidence that legislators who supported the law used discriminatory language and intended the provision to impose statewide racial profiling tactics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Border Patrol Applicant Admits to Molestation, Bestiality in Job Interview

Yuma County Sheriff's Office(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Cody Slaughter may have been a little too forthcoming while interviewing for a job with the border patrol.

The 22-year-old from Somerton, Ariz., was arrested last week after U.S. Customs and Border Protection notified the Yuma County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) that during a July 2 "pre-employment screening" Slaughter admitted that he had molested a 2-year-old girl eight years ago, had sexual interactions with a dog, horse and pig, and had a history of drug use.  Slaughter later confirmed his statements to sheriff investigators, YCSO Maj. Leon Wilmot said in a police report.

Slaughter was arrested on charges of one count of criminal sexual conduct with a minor when he was 14 and three counts of bestiality between 2004 and 2012, but he was released on July 10 because the Yuma County Attorney's Office had not yet filed criminal charges against him.

Prosecutors have sent the case back to the YCSO for further investigation, and Chief Criminal Deputy County Attorney Roger Nelson said charges will likely be filed eventually, the Yuma Sun reported.

Justice of the Peace Jorge Lozano told Slaughter that charges could still be filed later, in which case he would be summoned back to court, the Sun reported.

According to the police report, the YCSO obtained a search warrant based on Slaughter's statements and searched his house.  Investigators recovered "several items that directly link the suspect to his prior statements and admissions," Wilmot said in the report.

The state has one year to file a misdemeanor charge and up to seven years to file other charges, Lozano said, according to the Sun.

Slaughter did not respond to multiple calls placed on Monday and Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Challenges George Lopez

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., responded to George Lopez’s profanity-filled tirade against him by telling the comedian to come meet with him.

“Get some guts, come down here and meet me face to face. Let’s see how you act then,” Arpaio, known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Lopez has no comment regarding Arpaio’s invitation, according to his publicist.

Lopez’s attack on Arpaio was part of the comedian’s It’s Not Me, It’s You standup comedy special on HBO Saturday night. The rant came after Lopez joked that Mitt Romney is Latino, but won’t admit it. Lopez’s comments regarding Arpaio lasted for about two minutes and included profanities in English and Spanish to a cheering crowd.

Arpaio, 80, is known for his outspoken opinions on illegal immigration and his investigation into President Obama’s eligibility to be president.

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“I was surprised at the language. It was pretty nasty,” Arpaio told ABC affiliate KNXV.

“What is he, the spokesman for the open border people?” Arpaio told KNXV. “See, I can be funny too. Now let’s see if he has the guts to meet me, and I’ll be happy to take him to a Mexican lunch.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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