Lord of the Lies

Page 6 of 9

"His name was brought up in the conversation, yes," Lowe replied.

"He told you that Bob Owens was involved in helping arrange these contract hits on behalf of the Mexican Mafia?" the attorney asked.

"What he told me," Lowe answered, "was the Mexican Mafia was doing it for someone who they were associated with, and that Bob Owens facilitated the passing of the money."

The informant gave the names of the two alleged hit men, who were not the California suspects. Detectives tracked down the pair at two Arizona prisons for interviews and DNA testing.

But neither sample matched that of DNA found on a broken piece of a silencer that police discovered outside Billie Rosen's home.

What truly interested police were jail records that indicated Bob Owens had visited Luis Pecina several times shortly before the Rosen hit, including a day before the shooting.

Owens had no official legal business with Pecina, then 22. In fact, Pecina seemingly would have wanted to throttle Owens if he had had the chance.

He's the son of Petra Cano, a west Phoenix woman who was featured in the earlier New Times story about Owens. Cano had sold her home on the cheap in early 2001 to raise cash for Bob Owens, whom she believed to be an attorney associate of Tom Thinnes'.

She told New Times that Owens had demanded $100,000 for his legal "representation" of Pecina. She said she paid Owens $13,000 in cash but soon learned he wasn't an attorney and had done nothing for her son.

What Pecina and Owens were discussing in their early 2002 jailhouse meetings may remain yet another mystery. Pecina declined through his attorney, Bruce Blumberg, to answer questions about his relationship with Bob Owens.

(Interestingly, Pecina asked a judge in early 2003 to appoint Owens as his defense investigator. The judge declined to do so.)

On August 2, 2002, authorities arrested Mark Branon in Southern California on a new batch of federal charges, including planning the murders of Billie Rosen and his ex-attorney Sheldon Sherman.

Branon was extradited to a federal holding prison in Florence, where he says Bob Owens continued to visit him.

"He said that if I could make bail, he'd help me leave the country, but it would cost me. I trusted him. I told my wife that she could trust him with her life."

Mike Kimerer says he was unaware of Owens' ongoing visits with the man he had been snitching off.

"That would have been really improper for him to do," says Kimerer, who spoke with New Times after getting permission from Owens' attorney, Dichter. "I didn't know about that, so I can't speak to it."

By then, Glendale police had made contact with Daniel Martyn, whose name Bob Owens had provided as the alleged hit man in the Rosen and Sherman cases.

Martyn was in a San Diego-area jail on the stolen-car rap when Detective Lowe flew over in mid-August 2002 to collect a DNA sample from him. (His DNA wasn't on the silencer, either.)

By the end of August, a San Diego attorney told Glendale police that Martyn was ready to cooperate.

Just as Bob Owens had suggested, Martyn admitted involvement in the two murder conspiracies. But he denied actually firing the gun at Billie Rosen's house.

In short, Martyn said he and another guy had been stuck in a broken-down car at a gas station on Interstate 5 in Southern California when Branon had approached them.

After helping them to a repair shop, Branon allegedly offered Martyn and the other man $2,000 up front to murder his ex-attorney or an Arizona prosecutor who was hounding him.

Just like that.

The killers were to get $8,000 more upon completion of the deeds.

Martyn claimed he'd driven over to Arizona with Branon about a week before the Rosen shooting. He said he and Branon had picked up a silencer at a Phoenix man's house (that man later was arrested and pleaded guilty to a felony in the case) but that it hadn't worked during a test shoot in the desert.

Martyn said Branon also had taken him past Billie Rosen's house. But he swore he'd returned to California shortly before the attempted hit in a car that Branon had bought him in Arizona.

Martyn claimed he didn't know who had done the actual shooting, and that he didn't know Bob Owens.

The next month, Martyn would come to Arizona and lead police both to Billie Rosen's home and to the location where he'd picked up the silencer. He hasn't been charged in the case.

Bob Owens wasn't sitting still as things escalated.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin