Welcome to Courthouse Update, a weekly rundown goings-on at the Maricopa County Superior Court.
This week, Debra Milke gets a break in her murder retrial, former Phoenix cop Richard Chrisman is headed to the can, an ambulance thief is also headed to prison, and much more:
- Detective Armando Saldate won't testify in Milke case
Debra Milke was on death row for more than two decades before a federal appeals court overturned Milke's conviction for the murder of her son, and now she's out on bond. Detective Armando Saldate might be the only reason she ever was in prison, since he's the only one who ever heard her alleged confession. He just so happens to have a sketchy record as a cop, and was planning to refuse testifying in the retrial. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office wanted to compel Saldate to testify, but Judge Rosa Mroz denied that request. At this point, it's not even clear if there will be a trial without Saldate's testimony.
Next page: Former cop headed to prison
- Ex-Phoenix cop gets seven years in prison
Judge Warren Granville sentenced former Phoenix cop Richard Chrisman to seven years in prison for shooting and killing a Phoenix resident while on duty in 2007. Chrisman pleaded guilty to manslaughter instead of going to trial again on a murder charge, as a deadlocked jury forced a mistrial on that charge. Chrisman responded to a 911 call from Rodriguez's mother, who asked that police remove her son from the trailer where they lived together. Another officer told investigators that Chrisman ended up shooting Rodriguez and his dog -- killing them both -- for no apparent reason.
Next page: Ambulance thief gets prison time
- Travis Ward gets 14 years in prison in three cases
Travis Ward was sentenced to 14 years in prison plus a lifetime of probation for three cases, most notably his meth-fueled ambulance joyride. 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. Court records show the other convictions were for aggravated assault, and sexual assault.
Next page: Cancer-faker headed to prison
- Cancer-faker gets prison time
Judge Pamela Svoboda sentenced Jennifer Dempsey to 17 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised probation with sex offender terms. According to Phoenix police, Dempsey, 35, lied about her age to teenage boys she had sex with, then lied about being pregnant, and for the past five years, she's been lying about having cancer. Detectives discovered that Dempsey had met a pair of teenage boys -- ages 14 and 16 -- on Facebook, and eventually had sex with them.
Next page: 15-year-old killer headed to prison
- Ladajianna Mosley gets seven years in prison
Judge Pamela Gates sentenced Ladajianna Mosley to seven years in prison and four years of supervised probation upon her release for accidentally shooting and killing her sister's 17-year-old boyfriend earlier this year. Mosley told police she thought she had unloaded the .45-caliber handgun she and two others had just recently stolen after breaking into a neighbor's home.
Next page: Not-guilty plea in Savannah Cross case
- Ryan Reed pleads not-guilty
Ryan Reed pleaded not-guilty to molestation charges in the case of Savannah Cross, the 2-year-old girl who was killed in Phoenix last year while Reed and his wife were supposed to be babysitting the girl. The girl died a brutal death, but charges were dropped against Reed and his wife after tests from the medical examiner's office weren't returned in a timely manner. After a couple months of freedom, Phoenix police arrested Reed, the girl's alleged killer, on charges that he molested the girl, too.
Next page: Guilty plea in Mesa child's murder
- Jorge Busso pleads guilty to murdering 4-year-old
Jorge Busso pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted child abuse in the death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son in Mesa in 2010. Busso told police he was hitting the child with a belt when his head hit a wall, which he figured was the fatal blow.
Next page: Attempted rapist with a hatchet pleads guilty
- Francisco Moreno pleads guilty to hatchet attack on woman
Francisco Moreno pleaded guilty to kidnapping, attempted sexual assault and armed robbery. Moreno crept into a Chandler home earlier this year, and planned on stealing things, until he saw a woman in there. Moreno tried to take off the woman's pants, and grabbed his hatchet when started to fight him off. He was identified holding a can of Sprite that he'd stolen from the woman's home.
Next page: Student-teacher pleads not-guilty to sex charge
- Joel Calderon pleads not-guilty to sex charges
Joel Calderon, a student of Arizona State University's education program who was a student-teacher in Tempe High School's math department, pleaded not-guilty to charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old student.
Next page: Former Tilted Kilt employee pleads not-guilty to murdering co-worker
- Former Tilted Kilt employee pleads not-guilty to murdering co-worker
(No mugshot available.)
Javier Romero, a former employee of the Tilted Kilt in Downtown Phoenix, pleaded not-guilty to murdering a fellow kitchen worker at the restaurant. His next court date is on January 23.
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