Charges Filed in Chandler Officer Murder; County Attorney Rick Romley Says he "Wouldn't be Surprised" if Office Seeks Death Penalty

Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley today announced the indictment of five men in the murder of Chandler police Officer Carlos Ledesma last week.

If you're unfamiliar with the case, click here.

At a press conference this morning, Romley said while he didn't want to speculate, he "wouldn't be surprised" if his office seeks the death penalty for the suspects involved in the murder.

The suspects, Thadika Singleton, 38, John Webber, 37, Doarnell Jackson, 35, Jerry Wayne Cockhearn, 25, and Eldridge Gittens, 34, each has been charged with first-degree murder, as well as several other crimes including attempted armed robbery and conspiracy to sell marijuana.

Jackson, who Romley alleges was the initial shooter in the case, also was charged with first-degree premeditated murder for his role in the slaying.

Romley called the indictments a "holding complaint," saying because the investigation is ongoing, additional charges could be filed and additional people may be charged.

Two of the suspects, Jackson and Gittens, also face charges of misconduct involving a weapon because each is a felon prohibited from owning guns.

Romley says his office plans to introduce new legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people who aren't supposed to have them. 

"We've had a number of officers shot in the line of duty," Romley says. "Our statistical analysis has shown that the the primary cause for these deaths is by prohibited possessors."

Romley says part of the legislation would mirror federal law and create mandatory prison sentences for prohibited possessors found with a weapon.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King