On location, Maricopa County Ariz. Superior Courthouse.
(click the link to be taken to Examiner.com page.)
Photo Credit: Tucson Citizen
Arizona vs. Renteria Trial # 4: A snapshot of American Justice
(Brian Mori provides context to Tucson, Arizona’s Media coverage of Daniel Renteria’s fourth manslaughter trial as he travels through Alaska. Mori watched the first three trials and published for Examiner.com while he was in Tucson.)
The fourth jury empowered with deciding the fate of 29-year-old Daniel Renteria returned a guilty verdict for the death of only one of two men he confessed to killing in the middle of the day March 2010.
The jury acquitted Renteria in the shooting death of James Marschinke, 49, whom he suspected of molesting his son.
They convicted on 1 count of negligent homicide for killing Richard Rue jr, 41, who was with Marschinke the day they died.
Pima County refused to drop charges after three previous juries could not decide to convict or let him go.
Renteria called 911 and confessed to killing the unarmed men – in front of witnesses – five days after his son told him Marschinke, a neighborhood handyman despised by some neighbors, was coming into the four-year-old’s bedroom late at night and touching him.
Renteria claimed the men threatened him days before the shooting if he went to police.
Each judge has refused to let jurors hear the specifics of what police admitted in each trial was “credible evidence to support” the child’s accusations.
Despite Arizona freedom of information laws, Tucson police have not released reports detailing supposed DNA evidence linking Marschinke to the child’s bedroom.
The three trials called to head numerous quirks in Arizona law including lax gun registration requirements, the state’s broad justifiable-homicide statutes, the mental reasoning required to commit murder, the interrogation techniques of the police, and the prosecutors’ strategies.
Renteria was held in custody until March of this year but released after his attorney, Natasha Wrae argued keeping him in custody in this situation infringed his Constitutional rights.
Shortly before the beginning of this month’s fourth trial, Renteria was arrested on drug charges.
The court did not allow the recent arrest to be discussed in the trial, which was prosecuted by Chief Criminal Deputy County Attorney Mark Diebolt instead of Casey McGinley who represented the state the first three times.
Judge Richard S. Fields presided over the third and fourth trials as well as several plea hearings.
The trials have been extremely emotional for the families of the defendant and at least one of the victims.
The men were killed in the front yard of Richard Rue Sr., victim Rue’s father, the same year his wife died.
The slight, soft-spoken carpenter in his late sixties has refrained from commenting to media other than to point out “I live alone now.”
Renteria’s family was in constant attendance for the first three trials. Though several said they wished Daniel had called police, they did not blame him for taking matters into his own hands.
Renteria was estranged from his wife, Ashley Clarke, and living in their home at the time of the shooting.
This reporter cannot determine from local media coverage if they have attended the fourth trial.
Victim Rue’s family attended the first three trials as well but only the County Attorney’s victim liaisons represented Marschinke.
All three men have previous convictions for petty crimes.
Renteria was convicted in the original trial of “unlawfully burning” the car neighbors photographed him driving away from the crime scene the day of the shooting.
He has yet to be sentenced for that crime.
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.
Trial Conclusion: Last Man in Bizzarre Kidnapping Guilty, sues judge, prosecutors, and sheriff. SEE BELOW
In 2010, Robert Ergonis was the last man convicted – the only one of four to stand trial – in a bizarre 2007 kidnapping that garnered national attention. Read Brian Mori’s coverage of the two-week trial, featuring outrageous testimony from Kumari Fullbright, the former beauty pageant winner and University of Arizona law student who arranged to have her boyfriend kidnapped and beaten for several hours in a tucson house. Read how Ergonis, Fullbright’s ex-boyfriend, orchestrated the attack. Read testimonies by their accomplices who pleaded guilty in exchange for lesser sentences.
Victim Describes Attack Click to read
Snitches Detail Kidnapping Click to Read
Kumari Dominates Spotlight Click to Read
Kumari Stuns the Jurors Click to Read
Kumari Reveals Financial Motive Click to Read
Lawyers Close Wacky Kindapping Case Click to Read
Defendant’s Ex-women Say He’s Charming Click to Read
Last Man in Kidnapping Guilty; Sues Against Judge, Prosecutors, and Sheriff Click to Read
The man police believed was hired to help facilitate a marijuana transaction in 2008 was convicted of two counts of murder and a third count of assault after the deal erupted in violence. Ismael Padilla-Contreras was tried and convicted in Pima County as deputies continued to search for the man they believe actually pulled the trigger. Read about the survivor’s close call with death and the investigation that lead detectives to Padilla, who was charged in the deaths because of his suspected involvement with drugs.
“This is as far as you go,” Survivor Describes Killings Click to Read
“I’d rather not Know,” Dope Driver ID’s Defendant Click to Read
“There’s no connection,” Padilla’s Lawyer Petitions for Dismissal Click to Read
“A smell is not evidence,” Padilla’s Lawyer Argues Against Drugs and Murder “Click to Read”
Guilty Verdict Click to Read