Rock Burglar Goes to Prison, Terrorist-Hoaxer Gets Jail Time, and More
Welcome to Courthouse Update, a weekly rundown of goings-on at the Maricopa County Superior Court.
This week, the "Rock Burglar" gets prison time, a terrorist hoax earns one man a stint in jail, another man is found guilty in a meth-fueled ambulance theft, and more:
- Michael Turley, of terrorist-hoax video fame, sentenced to two years supervised probation and two weeks in jail.
Turley was arrested after police discovered he allegedly put his nephew up to this to "test" the Phoenix Police Department's response to a terrorist situation. To do this, Turley had his 16-year-old nephew wear a sheet on his body and a towel on his head, while he ran around a Phoenix intersection with a fake rocket-propelled grenade launcher. One motorist reportedly testified that he considered mowing over the boy. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office didn't like the video too much, as County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued a statement Thursday calling Turley's stunt "idiotic." A jury found Turley guilty of endangerment and knowingly giving a false impression.
- Robert Neese, the "Rock Burglar," sentenced to 22.75 years in prison.
Perhaps the most prolific home-burglary in the history of Arizona, Neese used rocks to shatter windows and break into hundreds of houses around the Valley. Among his victims are former Vice President Dan Quayle, and former Diamondbacks players Steve Finley and Mark Grace. Police estimated Neese netted more than $10 million in stolen goods during his 17-year run.
- A jury found Travis Ward guilty of charges in his theft of an ambulance.
Back in 2011, Ward hopped into an ambulance he spotted and drove away. That ambulance was at the scene of a fire in Phoenix. After trying to outrun police, Ward admitted to police that he didn't know how to drive, which was pretty apparent, given the more than $300,000 worth of damage he did on the way. Police said he attributed his theft to doing a lot of meth. A jury found Ward guilty of one count of theft, one count of theft of means of transportation and two counts of criminal damage. His sentencing is set for September 9 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Karen O'Connor. According to a court spokeswoman, Ward still faces charges of aggravated assault in a separate court case.
- Arizona Carindals linebacker Daryl Washington's court dealings ongoing.
Washington was in court this week, but not much happened. His next court date is October 9 before Judge Scott McCoy. Washington was arrested on two felony charges in May for allegedly choking and breaking the collarbone of his baby's mother.
- Joseph Aguilera pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in homeless man's death.
Army veteran Joseph Nicholas Aguilera, 30, is accused of punching a homeless man to death for no apparent reason. The elderly victim was standing near a bus stop at 27th Avenue and McDowell Road around 8 p.m. on July 11 when he was approached by Aguilera, police say. Aguilera punched the man once in the head, and that was enough to kill the man.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.