Kyleigh Sousa Murder Suspect's Attempt at a Plea Deal Rejected, Case Set to Go to Trial

Joseluis Marquez, the suspect in the 2010 death of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Kyleigh Sousa, is slated to go to trial in May.

Sousa, 21, was dragged by a car in an attempted robbery of her purse in an IHOP parking lot just south of the University's Tempe campus on May 26, 2010. She later died from her injuries.

Marquez, then 20 years old, was arrested more than six months later, in December, 2010.

Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb tells New Times that Marquez' lawyer offered prosecutors a plea deal in which Marquez would plead guilty to one count of manslaughter, which would stipulate a prison sentence between 13.5 and 18.

No dice, say county prosecutors.

That deal was rejected, and Cobb says prosecutors didn't counter with an offer.

A court spokesman says there was no deal reached in a settlement conference today, but Cobb says Marquez' attorney is asking for a chance to present another proposal.

If that doesn't happen, it's 8 a.m. on May 15 for Marquez, who would stand trial on one count each of first-degree murder and robbery.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery was at the Tempe Police Department's press conference to announce Marquez' arrest, and the then-newly elected county attorney said he believed the first-degree murder charge was appropriate in the case. A grand jury apparently agreed.

One clue the cops found that lead to Marquez was a photo-radar ticket he got a couple weeks before Sousa's death, driving the same car he was allegedly driving during the botched robbery. The "sketch" released by police didn't help too much.

According to court documents, the other occupants of the vehicle identified Marquez as the driver and the person who grabbed Kyleigh's purse.

Police first contacted Marquez nearly a month before his arrest, when he provided police with a story that later proved to be false.

Investigators found the vehicle Marquez was driving a few weeks after that, leading up to his arrest on December 7, 2010.

At that press conference announced Marquez' arrest, Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff acknowledged a lot of outcry had come from the community over Sousa's death -- and how long it had taken to make an arrest -- but he assured everyone that cops were working "tirelessly, 24/7 pursuing tips," and they had to be 100 percent sure Marquez was the guy.

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.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley