By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Cagnina, who fired the shots, received the same sentence. He is still serving time in an out-of-state prison. ²Holsinger himself was murdered in prison on March 4, 1982, while awaiting execution. He was set afire by fellow death-row inmate Robert Wayne (Bonzai) Vickers.
Holsinger's wife, Jeannie, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Her case was overturned on appeal. She was convicted a second time and again her conviction was overturned. She committed suicide while awaiting her third trial.
The car carrying Arnold and the deputies was passing Picacho Peak now.
Hey," Arnold asked, Ôcan we stop here? I have to go to the bathroom." Don't worry about that, kid," the driver said without turning around. We'll be in Phoenix in just a couple of minutes." But Arnold knew how far they still were from Phoenix. He knew he'd be doubled over in pain by the time they pulled up to the Maricopa County Courthouse. But his long time in prison had taught him the futility of trying to complain.
So the three men drove the rest of the way in silence.
The first man to greet Arnold at the courthouse was his lawyer, Don Bennett Moon. Tall, rangy, bearded, Moon is a larger-than-life character who lives to the hilt. He drives big cars, smokes big cigars, wears Rolex watches, picks up dinner checks freely and often creates social outrage. But on this obscure case, Moon had worked more than five years without a fee. I know people find it hard to accept," Moon explains, but there are some times when a lawyer wants to do something merely because it's the goddamn right thing to do."
Moon became acquainted with Arnold's case years before, because he originally represented Holsinger. Moon's knowledge of the facts convinced him Arnold's sentence was excessive.
Moon had made his feelings known many times to George Mount, the original prosecutor in the case. Surprisingly, Mount, known as a hard-liner, agreed that under present sentencing guidelines, Arnold had already served more than enough time.
Two years ago, Moon had the case almost won. Governor Rose Mofford was ready to issue a pardon. The Board of Pardons and Paroles had recommended it unanimously. But an ironic circumstance turned the tide against Arnold's release from prison. Ralph Milstead, Mofford's top assistant for prison affairs, opposed it.
Milstead had been on the Phoenix Police Department at the time of the shooting, and Arnold's arrest had been made by one of his former partners.
The first thing Judge Reinstein did at the hearing was to assure both prosecutor Mount and Moon that they all were doing the right thing both for society and for the defendant.
I can't prove who pulled the trigger," Mount said, but I don't believe Arnold did. A lot of people who have done more horrible things have served a lot less time. Based on today's sentencing scheme, he's already served more time in prison than if he entered a second-degree-murder plea today." Said Judge Reinstein: The key factor in the case is the sentencing range today. Arnold deserved to go to prison, no doubt about it. He was in the house where the murder was committed. It's just a matter of when enough is enough." Mount admitted Arnold's release would actually make him feel good. This is actually one of the most memorable court proceedings I've been involved in." ²Reinstein decided on a bookkeeping strategy to handle the matter. The judge tossed out Arnold's previous guilty plea and ordered a new trial. Arnold then entered a guilty plea and was promptly sentenced to time served.
Arnold turned around to the two prison guards who had transported him to the courthouse. How about getting me out of these things?" he said, indicating his handcuffs.
The two guards now seemed to be as happy as Arnold about the turn of events. They rushed forward to help.
Arnold hugged his mother. A few minutes later, he had changed to the civilian clothes his mother had brought. He was headed out the door with her when Moon stopped him. Moon was as elated as Arnold. They made arrangements to go back down to the prison together within a few days to pick up Arnold's personal belongings.
In the meantime, take care of yourself," Moon said, and shook hands. Arnold explained later, with awe in his voice: When we shook hands, Moon slipped me five one-hundred-dollar bills." A few minutes later, Arnold and his mother went out for his first restaurant meal in years. Arnold picked the spot. They went to a Jack in the Box, where Arnold feasted on a chicken and mushroom sandwich.
The next day was Christmas. Wade Arnold sat in front of the Christmas tree with his parents, exchanging gifts.
I couldn't imagine how loyal my mom and dad were going to be," he said. They've just gotten to be better and better people with age. I owe them more than I'll ever be able to repay."
The day after Christmas, Arnold, accompanied by his mother, went to renew his driver's license. He explained to the clerk that he hadn't renewed his license, which had expired 15 years before. The clerk was suspicious. She thought he might be trying to hide some traffic arrests.