Confessed Self-Defense Shooter to Be Re-Tried Next Week (In 3 parts)
By Brian Mori, 9/30/10
A man who confessed shooting and killing two Tucsonans in front of neighbors will again sit before a Pima County jury next week on manslaughter charges, according to court documents.
Daniel Montes Renteria, 27, of San Manuel, Ariz. told police he shot James Marschinke, 49, and Richard Rue Jr. 40, on March 1 of this year because he was afraid for his life and for his then 3-year-old son.
2 jurors declined to convict him in August on 2 counts of manslaughter but returned a guilty verdict of reckless burning rather than arson as was also charged.
Prosecutor and Deputy Pima County Attorney Casey McGinley re-filed the same day for October 5th and a new jury will hear the case again in room 486, Tuesday, in Pima County Superior Court.
The case will again be presided over by Judge Charles Sabalos.
Renteria was still represented by Tucson criminal defense attorney Natasha Wrae as of Sept 30 as court appointed counsel.
3 neighbors testified in August they watched Renteria gun down Marschinke and Rue in the front yard of Rue’s father’s home at 5318 E 25th Street in the middle of the day.
They testified they also saw Renteria drive away in his Monte Carlo, which was found later that afternoon by investigators burned on the south side of Tucson.
In the first of two taped video confessions shown to the August jury, Renteria told investigators he went to Rue’s home to confront the two, known in the neighborhood as close friends, because he believed Marschinke molested his 3-year-old son.
During a second confession recorded an hour later, Renteria said he became afraid when Marschinke approached him as he drove up to the curb.
“I didn’t go over there to kill them,” Renteria said in the video. “When they got up I just lost it.”
Marschinke was found dead by neighbors in the yard and Rue around the corner of the house near a locked shed; both were shot in the head and torso.
The medical examiner determined both men were shot from above at least once.
A blood trail and numerous bullet fragments lead investigators to believe Rue was running away.
One of the neighbors told jurors he could see Rue hold up his hand as he fell and heard him yell “no!”
Evidence suggested Marschinke and Rue were sharing beer and cigarettes on a bench before the shooting.
They were unarmed.
The jury had the option of returning lesser verdicts of negligent homicide for each victim.
Recap of August Renteria Mistrial (Part 1) – Case Theories
By Brian Mori, 9/30/10
Evidence presented during the August mistrial of Daniel Renteria, 27, was largely that linking him to the scene and the reputations of the victims.
Renteria was charged with 2 counts of manslaughter in the March 1 shooting deaths of James Marschnike, 49, and Richard Rue Jr., 40.
Prosecutor and Deputy Pima County Attorney Casey McGinley described the execution-style slayings as premeditated and unreasonable, saying Rentoria was “possessed by the thought of taking the men down.”
He opened telling the jury the state wouldn’t argue against Renteria’s claims his son had been molested by one or both men days earlier, but that there was no evidence to suggest an immediate threat to either the boy or his father at the time of the shooting.
No evidence was presented during trial to corroborate Renteria’s molestation belief or that Marschinke had broken into the child’s bedroom one night shortly before the shooting as he and his wife believed.
Renteria did not call police about his suspicions.
“He chose to become the detective in his own case, the prosecuting agency, the juror, the judge, and the executioner,” McGinley told jury of mostly women.
Detectives testified a remote key fob found on one of the victims was the same kind used by Renteria to open his Monte Carlo, which was burned beyond the point of determining an exact match.
Renteria was convicted by the August jury of a lesser offense, reckless burning, instead of arson as was charged.
His Defense Attorney, Natsha Wrae, argued he had no choice but to take action to protect his son and himself from men she said were terrorizing the mid-town neighborhood.
She told the jury Renteria believed the men had access to his home, his car, had plans to kill him, his cousin, and kidnap his son if he called police.
The lawyers argued the nuances of Arizona’s self-defense statutes for homicide which Superior Court Judge Charles Sabalos told the jury required “an actual or apparent immediate threat of physical danger,” to oneself or another, as determined by a “reasonable person.”
“The immediate threat existed all that week,” Wrae retorted McGinley in closing arguments. “His home was no longer a sanctuary for he and his son.”
Renteria had granted Marschinke access to his home as a hired handyman earlier in the year.
Renteria told police Marschinke “puffed up” in a threatening manner as he approached the car.
The men were unarmed the day they died.
Wrae argued Marschinke died with a single black glove under his hand that Renteria could have thought a weapon in the moment.
McGinley asked the jury during closings to consider the logic of the self-defense claim: “You have this fear of people and you go over where you know they will be?”
Review of August Renteria Mistrial – Character Evidence
Several neighbors testified to liking Daniel Renteria, believing him to be a good neighbor and caring father.
“He’s a wonderful dad,” said Ashley Clark, wife and mother to their 3-year old son, outside the courtroom. “He did what he had to do.”
Clark said she sympathized with Marschinke’s and Rue’s families but not for the men themselves, as she believed they were both involved in molesting her son.
An online Arizona Public Records search revealed several misdemeanor charges and one conviction of an un-specified “local” misdemeanor charge in Renteria’s name.
Clark and family members attributed several of the dismissed cases to fabricated domestic dispute claims by a former girlfriend.
Past criminal history is generally considered irrelevant as evidence against a person on trial.
In chambers following the August hung-jury mistrial, Superior Court Judge Charles Sabalos ordered the criminal histories of the victims sealed.
Sabalos had warned Wrae and McGinley earlier in the trial he did not want to see the victim’s reputations scrutinized “needlessly.”
Like Renteria, Marschinke and Rue had histories of petty charges.
Deputy Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Cynthia Porterfield confirmed Marschinke had negligible amounts of cocaine and alcohol in his system the morning he died.
Sabalos allowed neighbors to give limited testimony of the victims’ reputations and their interactions with them.
Several described Marschinke and Rue as almost constantly together.
Marschinke was hired around the neighborhood as a laborer and handyman for odd jobs.
Though the state initially claimed Rue was diminished in mental capacity, examination of witnesses on both sides, including Rue’s father and sister, revealed he had successfully completed high school and had not been diagnosed as medically or psychologically disabled.
Mr. Rue’s testimony was relatively brief.
He described his son as non-violent but not wanting his friends inside his home on 25th street.
None of the neighbors described being outright afraid of either men, but some said they were nuisances and a bit threatening.
“The law doesn’t allow you community service points for killing a nuisance,” McGinley told jurors during closings.
Kathleen Villa, who lived around the corner from him, recalled for the jury an occasion when she called Renteria from work because she believed Marschinke was on top of her roof, alarming her mother.
She also testified she told Renteria she saw Marschinke emerge from Renteria’s home when he was not there.
“(Marschinke) bothered me more than anyone I’ve ever known,” testified William Campbell who lived on the other side of 22nd Street and had hired Marschinske to do odd jobs around his house. “I have not worried at all about anything around my house since he was killed.”
James Chase, another area resident, told the jury he and Renteria discussed the defendant’s concerns about Marschinke.
Renteria did not testify in August.