A Snapshot of Arizona Justice in the New Millenium
Click the above link to read the conclusion of the State of Arizona’s 3rd attempt to put Daniel Montes Renteria, 29 in jail after he confessed to shooting and killing two men in broad daylight in front of three witnesses.
This Tucson case is rife with legal dilemmas and begs the legitimacy of Arizona’s self-defense statutes, gun laws, and police interrogation strategies but most importantly, demonstrates the dialectic between law and morality that permeates our jury-based criminal justice system.
Three juries refused to convict or acquit Daniel, a father and husband, even though he confessed to the crime and was convicted of burning the vehicle drove away from the crime scene. He was tried for a fourth time in August 2011 and convicted in the death of one of the men.
Police believe one of Renteria’s victims – for whom the 4th jury acquited – may have molested his then 4-year-old son. Jurors repeatedly refused to return guilty verdicts of manslaughter or negligent homicide without reviewing the forensic evidence of molestation. Two different judges in the span of four separate trials barred the evidence of molestation as irrelevant, despite arguments by his attorney.
Four times witnesses – neighbors, family, coworkers, and police – sat before jurors and described the shootings, the days prior, and Daniel, whom they portrayed as nothing but a devoted father and family man who would stop at nothing to protect his son.
The victim’s have been portrayed as undesirables in the economically depressed midtown Tucson neighborhood.
Read in-depth Brian Mori’s coverage of all four trials chronologically:
FOURTH AND FINAL TRIAL: A Snapshot of American Justice
ETHICAL DISCLOSURE BY THE REPORTER:
* In the interest of journalistic integrity, I will disclose that Daniel’s Attorney Natasha Wrae is a former employer and mentor of mine during my years at the University of Arizona. Prosecutor Casey McGinley also coached me alongside Ms. Wrae on the University of Arizona Mock Trial team. I have stayed in contact with them through the years on a professional and semi-personal basis. It was because of my relationship with these two litigators that I became aware of this case, the complexities of which have been underreported by Tucson’s overworked and thinly spread media outlets. ALL FACTS in the aforementioned reports were obtained from watching the trial proceedings, researching public records, collaborating with other Tucson reporters, and communicating on the record with Ms. Wrae and Mr. McGinley. ALL FACTS are verifiable independently of my reports, I welcome and encourage public investigation into this case. The ramifications of this case will set precedence in American law, I believe.
I was lucky to observe these proceedings almost in their entirety and it is without doubt that I offer this coverage as ethical, fact-based, and un-biased. My reporting will speak for itself far beyond any inference of dependence on my familiarity with Ms. Wrae and Mr. McGinley. In the continued interest of maintaining journalistic integrity, however, I have chosen not to cover – as a fact reporter – the fourth trial because Mr. McGinley has been replaced by another prosecutor and I do not want my reporting to be perceived as biased merely due to my past employment by Ms. Wrae. I intend to vocalize my opinions of this matter when Daniel’s fate has been settled by a court of law.