By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
In the home-invasion case, Tryon returned an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, which had been confiscated by Varnrobinson from the suspect so it could undergo ballistics testing.
The owner of the rifle was white and an acquaintance of the lieutenant's.
When Hunter, on behalf of his partner, objected to Tryon's action, the now-former detective tells New Times that Tryon said, "Varn can't go around taking guns from every white boy in town."
Hunter's complaint resulted in Tryon's reprimand by the town manager.
Varnrobinson's complaint was handed over to the Arizona Department of Public Safety for investigation.
During the DPS investigation, Tryon admitted to returning the weapon to its owner, saying he had the right to do so.
The sexual-assault case involved a 16-year-old girl allegedly raped by at least one Florence High School football player at a 2007 party in the desert.
Hunter was lead detective on the case, but Tryon butted in despite his having a conflict of interest because his son was on the football team and knew others at the party, including the prime suspect.
Tryon's son also had taken the highly inebriated victim to the police station on the night of the incident.
In addition, Tony Jimenez, principal of Florence High School at the time and currently an assistant superintendent of the Florence Unified School District, is the brother of Tryon's wife, Sylvia.
Nevertheless, Tryon caused cell phones containing photos and video of the alleged sexual assault to be returned to the students who owned them.
This happened before Hunter could obtain warrants so that the evidence on the cell phones legally could be downloaded for use in court.
No one ever was charged in the case.
In the end, the Pinal County Attorney's Office declined to bring charges against Tryon for tampering with evidence, concluding that there was no reasonable likelihood of convicting him.
Part two of New Times' "Florence Exposed" series ("Suffer the Children," November 21) focused on two cases mishandled by the FPD: the alleged rape and the 2009 shooting death of 9-year-old Dustin Kemp.
In the killing of the boy, lead Detective Renee Klix, an ally of Tryon's, based her investigation on the premise that Dustin's 2 1/2-year-old brother removed a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic Kimber 1911 handgun from a "hidden" table drawer and shot his brother through the head from five feet away.
During the appeals hearings for the fired detectives, it was revealed that Varnrobinson, Hunter, ex-FPD chief Ingulli, and then-Deputy County Attorney Greg Hazard all believed that Dustin's out-of-work dad, James Kemp, was responsible for the shooting.
In fact, during a taped 2012 discussion of the case, Hazard told Varnrobinson, "I think the father did it, I really do."
Varnrobinson and Hunter had been ordered to re-investigate the case by Chief Ingulli because Klix had done a poor job handling the crime scene and had failed to conduct a formal interview with James Kemp to confront him about his suspicious behavior and statements.
After Ingulli was fired and replaced with Hughes, the new chief accused Hunter and Varnrobinson of attempting to discredit Klix and Tryon (who also was at the Kemp crime scene) by re-investigating the Kemp case.
But based on Ingulli's appeals-hearing testimony that he had asked Varnrobinson and Hunter to look into the Kemp case, hearing officer Richard McAnally ruled against the police department.
However, McAnally did use a tangential allegation — that Varnrobinson had surreptitiously recorded then-Deputy County Attorney Hazard — to justify the black detective's firing. This, even though it was standard procedure for Varnrobinson to record the statements of those involved in investigations.
As part of a deal with prosecutors, James Kemp pleaded guilty on October 18 to a single charge of domestic-violence endangerment and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation.
Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles, like many top prosecutors, claims to be a tough-on-crime zealot.
In a statement to the Florence Reminder and Blade-Tribune, the Republican county attorney blamed his predecessor, Democrat Jim Walsh, for allowing the Kemp case to "languish."
He called Dustin Kemp's killing "a tragic accident" and claimed that Klix's investigation had been "lengthy and comprehensive."
Voyles told the Reminder, "In this case, there was no evidence that James Kemp did anything more than endanger his children by storing his guns unsafely."
Noteworthy is that Hazard, who worked at the County Attorney's Office until recently, was the prosecutor who pulled the case from a grand jury because he found it riddled with unanswered questions, and that Klix's "lengthy and comprehensive" investigation involved not doing a formal interview of the main suspect.
As was discussed in parts one and two of this series, nothing happened with the Kemp case until June, when New Times requested all relevant documents from the County Attorney's Office and Florence, both of which denied the requests initially.
In August, Voyles' office began to re-evaluate the case. And, in October, James Kemp was quietly charged and pleaded out. Voyles made his comment a week after part one of this series was published and one day after part two was published online.
Interestingly, Rankin and Voyles are not political allies. The mayor says he backed incumbent and fellow Democrat Walsh in the 2012 election.