Canadian Newspaper Retraces How Local Murderer was Spared Death Penalty in Mean, Old Arizona

Ten years ago, a team of Canadian defense lawyers and diplomats pressed then-Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley to spare the life of a man convicted of murdering an elderly Valley woman.

Romley relented, deciding not to seek the death penalty against Paul Pilipow (pictured) and persuading the victim's family to see it his way, says an article in today's Canada's Leader-Post newspaper. The paper is on its second day of a look into the 1999 murder of 68-year-old Eloise Doyle and how the man who killed her escaped a death sentence.

Chances looked slim to save Pilipow, at first:

His wife had turned on him. The victim's family wanted him dead. And in conservative states like Arizona, elected sheriffs and prosecutors are reluctant to back down in death-penalty cases.

Romley wanted Canadian officials to guarantee they wouldn't try to transfer Pilipow home, the article says, but Canada typically refused to make such assurances. So Colin Robertson, Canada's consul-general in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2004, took it upon himself to make the written guarantee. Robertson was later disciplined by his superiors, the article says.

Pilipow ended up getting sentenced to life in prison.

In the Day One article, the SaskLeader-Post article's author, Jason Warick, makes a big deal of how Pilipow and his wife/accomplice Cherie (at left) spent about two years "under the control of the Maricopa County prison system, headed by Joe Arpaio..." although that seems to have nothing to do with the overall story. Maybe Arpaio shows up in Day Three.

What a sob story by this Canuck! Do Canadian readers really care this much about sparing the life of a guy who, according to Warick:

1) Decided to steal an RV and kill its owner. 2) Carried out the plan by going to the home of Doyle with his wife and infant, kidnapping her and taking her motor home. 3) Hit Doyle in the head, then dumped her bound body out of his car and killed her by running over her several times. 4) Set fire to the victim's body in a half-assed attempt to conceal the crime.

Prison records show neither Pilipow nor his wife, who will be released in about 12 years, aren't model inmates.

Thanks to Canada, Arizona taxpayers will be rid of Pilipow later rather than sooner.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.