Joe Arpaio Should Get Down on His Ancient Knees and Thank Buddhist Temple Mass Murderer Johnathan Doody

We'll be chiming in soon with our take about the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that upheld the inadmissibility of the 1991 confession of Buddhist temple mass murderer Johnathan Doody.


Killer Johnathan Doody gets a new trial--and the jury won't hear his 1991 confession.

​The effect of the high court's decision will be that Doody gets a retrial, and jurors won't be hearing his critical and highly controverted confession to Maricopa County sheriff's detectives.

Anyone who was around the state of Arizona back then will remember this terrible case well:

Doody, who was 17 at the time, was convicted with another young man in the execution-style killings of six Buddhist monks, a nun and two novice monks at the Wat Promkunaram Temple in the western reaches of Maricopa County. He has been serving nine life sentences at the Arizona State Prison.

Doody's accomplice was Alessandro Garcia, who testified against his onetime pal at trial in return for escaping a possible death penalty, and is serving a 271-year sentence.

For sure, the Temple Murders Case (as it came to be known) remains one of the most infamous cases in Arizona history.

In part, that was because four innocent men (the so-called Tucson Four) confessed to the crimes after being badgered endlessly by Maricopa County sheriff's detectives and were careening toward trial when evidence of the true killers emerged.




We'll save our analysis of the appellate courts' rulings for later.

For now, though, chew on this twist of fate:

Joe Arpaio won his first four-year term as Maricopa County Sheriff in the 1992 election, besting incumbent Sheriff Thomas Agnos after a race in which the Tucson Four fiasco and its aftermath was the one and only campaign issue.

Before the Temple Murders case, Agnos was known to most as a decent sheriff who had brought a sense of professionalism to an office that had been lacking same for decades.

The disastrous MCSO investigation on the front end of the mass murder case ruined Agnos, and gave Arpaio--then a little-known former DEA agent whom had been working in his wife's real-estate office--an opening for an upset win.

The rest, as they say, was history--bad history.

The buffoonish Arpaio would become perhaps the most famous sheriff in all the land, a caricature of a "tough guy," a publicity-seeking boor. 

And the only reason he got to be "Sheriff Joe" was his future agency's bungling of the biggest case it ever had.


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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin