A Snapshot of American Justice: Jury Convicts in 4th Renteria Trial

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.

Click to Read Brian Mori’s coverage, including a detailed report on the legalities and psychology in the first three Renteria trials

Click to Read Kim Smith’s (Arizona Daily Star) coverage of the fourth trial.


Giffords’ Hero Loses Student Election; Scandal, Student Courts, and Expression Restraints

Read Brian Mori’s series coverage of the Spring 2011 UA undergrad scandal involving Daniel Hernandez Jr., the intern President Obama hailed as a hero for attempts to help Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the Tucson Mass Shooting earlier this year.

Daniel Hernandez Jr. was twice turned down for student body president of the University of Arizona by undergrad voters. The campaign was contentious, according to all parties during two rounds (four total) student court hearings on the UA Campus.

The student court hearings questioned powers of student officials to regulate student expression and campaign tactics as well as evoked memories of the 2000 Bush / Gore election

“He was definitely unstable,” Sheriff Says Assassination May Be Due to Politics

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik After Press Briefing in Westward Look Hotel, Tucson. 1/8/11 - By Brian Mori

By Brian Mori

Federal and county authorities concluded a press conference Saturday night without releasing confirming the name of a man taken into custody after a mass shooting at a northwest Tucson supermarket that killed Federal District Judge John Roll, 63, and severely wounded AZ Dist. 8 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, 40.

Authorities confirmed at least one gunman opened fire shortly after 10 a.m. on a crowd of at least a few dozen who were gathered at a meet-and-greet with the Congresswoman outside the Safeway at the Southeast corner or Ina and Oracle Roads.

Five other people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl who was pronounced dead at University Medical Center in Tucson earlier today.

12 others were shot and taken to area hospitals.

“In fifty years as a police officer in this community,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik began the conference which was held in a ballroom in the Westward Look Hotel just north of Tucson, “I’ve never been as shocked in my life as the events that happened today.”

A search is under way for another man police would not describe other than to say he may have been involved in transporting the shooter to the scene.

“We know the 22 year old in custody has a criminal background,” Dupnik told reporters. “We believe he was a Pima Community College Student and we have reports he had problems.”

Jared Lee Loughner is believed to be the man bystanders tackled and police arrested, though the Sheriff’s department refused to confirm his identity.

“I’m not a psychiatrist,” Dupnik said, “But I’d say he was definitely unstable.”

The Sheriff did not know the identities of two men who tackled the shooter but said deputies had their information.

Police confirmed they recovered a semi-automatic pistol that still had ammo inside the cartridge but would not describe the make of the gun.

They would not say to whom the gun belonged.

Though Dupnik and his staff said the suspect had made no statement to police other than to invoke his Constitutional right to silence, Dupnik said the incident may have been the consequence of emotional pandering by politicians and media in recent elections.

“When you look at unbalanced people and how they respond to what comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, and the hatred,” he said and then paused reflectively. “The bigotry that goes on in this country is getting outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Dupnik would not elaborate on specific incidents but repeated that he believed the shooter may have been motivated by recent political climates.

“This is a time when America is becoming a not so nice place,” he said. “Freedom of speech does not come without consequences.”

According to Dupnik, Judge Roll was on his way home from church at St. Augustine’s Cathedral in downtown Tucson and stopped by to say hello to Giffords.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dupnik said holding back emotion.

“I’ve never met a more sincere, fair minded judge in my whole life,” Dupnik said, “He was one of the finest people I know.”

Dupnik said Giffords, who was re-elected in November, did not request security at the event Saturday though he recalled two recent threats to her safety during her last campaign.

“Someone in a very angry audience dropped a weapon from their pants and around the same time windows were broken in her headquarters,” he said.

The Tucson Police Department is currently investigating a suspicious package found outside the Congresswoman’s office after the shooting.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sheriff’s staff said the suspects family had been contacted.

Neither Dupnik nor the FBI’s Nate Grey would elaborate on the order in which victims were shot or their injuries.

University of Arizona Medical Center Chief Trauma Surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee confirmed earlier today that Giffords was shot in the head but was responding with her hands to commands by medical personnel.

She is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

“Surprise isn’t the word, I just can’t comprehend it,” said Pima County Supervisor Ann Day in whose district the incident took place. “I have the utmost respect for Gabby. She is the model public servant because she takes her duty seriously and makes herself accessible.”

Day said she also campaigned for election in the same Safeway shopping complex in which today’s shooting took place.

“My heart goes out to all the victims and their families,” Day said with tears in her eyes.

Video and photos of the press conference and crime scene will be available shortly.

Renteria Convicted After Four Trials; “Not-Guilty” in one of two deaths

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:




“They didn’t have to die.” Closing arguments in Renteria Trial

Renteria: Character Centra to Casel

Preview of Upcoming, Second Trial


Renteria Recap of 1st trial

“A Righteous Act” Opening Statements in Renteria Re-Trial

“I was cautious but not afraid.” Witnesses More Cooperative Second Time Around

“It’s pretty clear what happened.” Medical Examiner Reviews Injuries

“He was slow.” Family Describe Victim

“Well, he was a thief.” Colorful Witness Describes Victim

“Fly Man” versus the “Family Man.” Reputations On trial

“I just lost it, it wasn’t me.” Jurors Watch Renteria’s Confession

“The way he stood up, he knew.” Police Say Confession is “Inconsistent.”

“It was significant because there was a dead body nearby.” Defense Private Eye Criticizes Police

In The Jury’s Hands .

Judge Orders Lawyers to Review Facts but Not Answer Jury’s Questions

No Verdict Again! What Will Pima County Do?


State Takes 3rd Crack at Killer Dad, Openings in Renteria Manslaughter Trial

Renteria Speaks to Jury, First Time in Three Trials

Revenge, Self-Defense, or Unconscious Act? Psychological Focus of Third Triall

3rd Hung Jury! Renteria Case Makes History

FOURTH AND FINAL TRIAL: A Snapshot of American Justice




* 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.