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15 Arizona News Stories That Define 2015

Well, 2015 was an exciting year!

From the horrific murder-suicide in Tempe Town Lake to the anti-Islam protests and the Salt River Horse drama, Arizona produced quite a few headline-grabbing stories.

So get ready to go down memory lane because here's our roundup of the ones that will always remind us of 2015:

15. Remember that time two escaped Llamas tore through the streets of Sun City and outran the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for an hour?  We're still laughing about that one.

14. Yikes! And then there was the warning from the Arizona Health Department that at least 1,000 people were possibly exposed to the measles.

13. Suffice it to say that the people of Maricopa County were unhappy to learn that the downtown Phoenix Men’s Overflow Shelter and the adjacent East Lot were closing without an alternative shelter option, potentially landing hundreds of homeless people on downtown streets. 

12. Oy, and then there was all that drama after Governor Doug Ducey fired Charles Flanagan and hired Greg McKay to lead the Department of Child Safety, but problems continued to plague the ailing agency.

11. Arizona got a firsthand feel for the true spirit of Christmas after that crazy earthquake “rattled” our state, knocked over a few lawn chairs and coffee mugs, and brought us all together. We will rebuild, Arizona....

10. The murder-suicide of the Baxter family was easily the most horrific story of the year. To recap, the father, Glenn Edward Baxter, drove a car into the Tempe Town Lake to kill his wife and three young children.

9. Arizona really started Feelin' the Bern this summer after Vermont U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came to Phoenix and captured the support of thousands.

8. It's still hard to believe, but the Jodi Arias trial is finally over! Arias was spared the death penalty after a jury decided she deserves a life sentence for the 2008 slaying of Travis Alexander.

7. We still have nightmares about the breach in the Gold King Mine that unleashed more than 3 million gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River and threatened the health and livelihood of everyone and everything downstream.

6. After Arizona State University Professor Matthew Whitaker got demoted for plagiarism — and was then forced to withdraw his company's six-digit diversity-training contract from the Phoenix Police Department — the world is left with just one question: Did he really think he wouldn't get caught?

5. We got a heck of a lot closer to legalizing marijuana in 2015 after six cannabis-related ballot measures were filed with the Secretary of State's Office. 

4. Remember the Interstate 10 shootings? Boy, that was a crazy time! Eventually, the state Department of Public Safety arrested Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. and charged him with 16 counts of criminal activity in association with the shootings.

3. 2015 was not very friendly to America's toughest sheriff. So many damning revelations came to light during Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt trial that it's impossible to name them all. But we tried.

2. Forget the Syrian refugee crisis; we had an equine crisis here in Arizona! Thankfully, after a contentious months-long standoff between the U.S. Forest Service and members of the local community, the Salt River Horse fiasco finally blew over, and the wild horse advocates claimed victory.

1. After the year we've had, it's totally possible that 2015 (and the entire state of Arizona) will be forever infamous for Jon Ritzheimer's anti-Islam Protests.

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