Welcome to Courthouse Update, a weekly rundown goings-on at the Maricopa County Superior Court.
This week, Debra "Death-Row Debbie" Milke is out of jail, two people were found guilty of murder, a man with bad excuses for hitting a bicyclist gets his punishment, and more:
- Thomas Moton found guilty of murder
Moton killed his ex-girlfriend Takesha Barnes in May 2012, as Barnes was leaving her daughter's middle-school graduation ceremony in Avondale. Barnes was a domestic-violence victim who had just taken out an order of protection against Moton earlier that week. Barnes had asked for a security guard to escort her to her car, but Barnes was still able to shoot her. A jury found Moton guilty of first-degree murder.
Next page: Debra Milke is free -- for now
- Debra Milke released on bond
Debra Milke, whose 1990 conviction for the murder of her 4-year-old son was overturned by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, posted $250,000 bond (with the help of supporters) and was released from jail yesterday, pending her new trial. County Attorney Bill Montgomery previously claimed that Milke being granted bail was "not going to happen." Oops.
See also: Debra Milke Granted $250K Bond
Next page: Guilty plea in Scottsdale molestation case
- Ali Chitsaz pleads guilty to molestation charges
Chitsaz had a girlfriend he met on Match.com, but he also molested her 6-year-old son in several ways, including peeing on the boy and having him perform oral sex on him. Chitsaz pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted molestation of a child, two counts of molestation of a child, and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
Next page: Scottsdale man found not-guilty of assault
- Jason Bonal found not-guilty
Bonal, who was 36 when he was arrested in 2011, was accused of beating up a 62-year-old man, after hitting on the guy's fiancée at the Narcisse Champagne and Tea Lounge (which closed late last year). Police said witness statements and a photo lineup helped link Bonal to the attack, but a jury disagreed, as he was found not-guilty in the attack.
Next page: Man headed to jail for hitting bicyclist with truck
- Nicholas Linsk headed to jail for hitting bicyclist
Mesa resident Nicholas Linsk was accused of driving his truck away from the scene of his fatal collision with a bicyclist in Fountain Hills, which was reported by a man driving in the lane next to him at the time. Lisnk did not have a good excuse: he claimed he noticed his truck was damaged when he left work at a Target store, and it was parked in a different spot from the one he parked it in before heading into work -- meaning someone else did it, and brought his truck back. Not quite. Lisnk took a plea deal, and pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Judge Sherry Stephens sentenced Linsk to 90 days in jail, five years of supervised probation, and 500 hours of community service. He now owes $18,390.40 in restitution to the victims.
Next page: Road-rage shooter found guilty
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- John Chester Stuart found guilty of second-degree murder
Stuart couldn't beat a murder charge twice. Stuart shot and killed a man in 2008 after he and another man were involved in a road-rage argument, but people have had a hard time figuring out if it's murder. Stuart killed the man after he approached his vehicle in an apparent road-rage altercation, and his first trial ended with a hung jury. The kicker there -- Stuart was representing himself during the trial. In the second trial, jurors have deliberated for several days, and came back with a guilty verdict, for second-degree murder, and drive-by shooting.
Next page: Closing arguments set in killer-cop case
- Closing arguments in Richard Chrisman trial set for Monday
The trial is still ongoing for former Phoenix cop Richard Chrisman, and closing arguments are set for Monday. Chrisman is charged in the 2010 death of Phoenix resident Daniel Rodriguez. Chrisman responded to a 911 call from Rodriguez's mother, who asked that police remove her son from the trailer where they lived together. Another officer told investigators that Chrisman ended up shooting Rodriguez and his dog -- killing them both -- for no apparent reason. The trial resumes on Tuesday.