Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery on Tuesday did not rule out seeking the death penalty or adding charges to the 26 new felony accusations that suspected Maryvale Shooter Aaron Juan Saucedo now faces.
Saucedo was in court earlier, where he blurted “I’m innocent” during his arraignment, after the judge read out the charges. She ordered the 23-year-old laborer held without bond.
In addition to the murder charge Saucedo faces in the shooting of his mother's boyfriend, he now stands accused of eight counts of first-degree murder, six counts of drive-by shooting, three counts of attempted murder, two counts of firing a gun at objects, five aggravated assault charges, and one count of endangerment.
Montgomery moved up his regular press conference one day to take questions about the case, the most prominent since the Jodi Arias affair and involving the deadliest murder spree since 2006, when the county prosecuted separately the Baseline Killer and Serial Shooters.
Montgomery refused to speculate on whether he would seek the death penalty, saying only that his team would review the case as it normally would. He said the case has now been referred to prosecutors and they have 48 hours to file charges.
They have another 10 to 20 days to decide if there is enough probable cause to pursue a capital case.
He would not speculate if prosecutors can meet those customary deadlines, which can be extended, but did hint that Saucedo could face additional charges.
“There may be more out there,” he said.
“There’s a possibility that they may be able to continue to identify other crimes associated with this suspect, so we want to be careful,” Montgomery said.
“I can’t tell you that I’m expecting additional charges,” he added, “but as they investigate more, they learn more.”
Asked if the Phoenix Police Department has told him they expect to refer more charges, Montgomery said “no.”
Additional charges are common in many prosecutions. In this case, the MCAO took an unusual step convincing a judge to seal the latest charging sheets outlining the accusations against Saucedo. Montgomery suggested that was because new information continues to come out of the ongoing police investigation and that he doesn’t want to jeopardize the case.
“Every time law enforcement has taken another step, they’ve identified more information,” he noted. “They’re running down those leads and identifying additional criminal conduct.”
“There may be more out there for them to work on and to submit to this office.” He added, “There is a possibility they may identify other crimes.”
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At times, Montgomery sparred with reporters and chastised some for showing suspect photos to witnesses.
“It’s more important in this case for us to have justice than you to have more clicks on your website or hits on your Twitter account,” he said. “It’s not good.”
But the sealing of court records was not in retaliation, he insisted.
“This is not an effort to keep information away from the media. This is an effort to make sure law enforcement can do its job in getting justice for the victims, which is much more important.”