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.