Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on May 9, 1991 · Page 24
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 24

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 9, 1991
Page 24
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IU The Arizona R puhlic Thursday, Mny 9, W Evidence links restaurateur to 2 of 7 slayings Judge to decide if jury will hear 'dying words By Brent Whiting The Arizona Republic "Joe Calo had us killed." "His painter friend did it." "Get Joe Calo." These are the words Verna Latham, a Pinal County resident, scrawled when she and her husband, Harney, were shot and killed in late 1988 at their home near Maricopa. Investigators say the words were written in three places on the cover of a bhxxJy magazine lying by her body near the bed in the master bedroom. The prosecution argues that, based upon the medical evidence in the case, she could have written the words after she had been shot once but before a second and final shot was fired. The slayings are two of seven in Arizona charged against Giuseppe "Joe" Calo, a Phoenix restaurateur scheduled to stand trial June 17. On May 24, Judge Norman Hall of Maricopa County Superior Court is scheduled to hear arguments on several pretrial issues, including a defense request that Verna Latham's "dying declaration" be withheld from the jury. Alan Simpson, a lawyer for Calo, has argued that the words, if allowed into evidence, would be unfair to his client. "Had Verna Latham's knowledge that 'Joe Calo had us killed' come from Joe Calo, it would be more reasonable to expect the statement to say, 'Joe Calo was here,' or other Barney Latham He and his wife, Verna, were found shot to death in 1988. Verna Latham Was able to scrawl notes on a magazine lying near her body. words in the present tense," Simpson argues in documents filed with Hall. Her dying words are more "a conclusion or expression of opinion based upon collateral factors or hearsay, rather than observation," he said. However, Myrna Parker, a deputy county attorney, argues the words should be admitted under a court rule that allows evidence of declarations made by people about to die. "Clearly, the evidence supports the conclusion that Verna Latham had personal knowledge of Calo's involvement when she wrote the note," the prosecutor argues in court papers. Investigators contend that the "painter friend" referred to in the dying words is James David Majors, a former Phoenix painting contractor and longtime associate of Calo's. Implicated but not charged Majors, 43, has been implicated but - ' . ,' ' ' fr: i -;' " 1 - f J r The Arizona Republic Giuseppe "Joe" Calo, who is being held without bail in a Maricopa County jail, , is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and other crimes. The Phoenix restaurateur is scheduled to stand trial June 1 7. never charged by law-enforcement authorities in all seven Arizona killings linked to Calo. On Feb. 4, Majors was sentenced by a California judge to die in that state's gas chamber for the Jan. 26, 1989, gangland-style murders of two men and a woman at a home in Fair Oaks, a Sacramento suburb. Parker declined last month to say why Majors has not been charged in the Arizona killings, but said there is an "ongoing investigation." Calo, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Italy who has been in this country since 1972, has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and other crimes in the following cases: Angelo Desideri, 57, a Phoenix businessman who disappeared June 5, 1988, and whose decomposed body was found by campers April 29, 1989, near Jacumba, Calif., a mountainous area about 40 miles east of San Diego. The victim, who once owned an Italian-import business and frequented Calo's restaurant, had been shot in the head, investigators said. e Gaston I. Chouchane, 58, and his wife, Ginette, 53, former art-gallery operators who had done business with Calo. Their bodies were found Aug. 25, 1988, in the living room of their Scottsdale home. He died of a blow to the top of the head, and she died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to autopsy findings. John A. Mancini, 62, a Scottsdale restaurant-equipment salesman who also had done business with Calo. He disappeared Aug. 29, 1988. His body was found Oct. 7, 1988, near Dartlett Lake, about 30 miles north of Phoenix. He had been shot in the head, authorities said. Barney Latham, 63, and his wife, Verna, 61, who were found shot to death Dec. 2, 1988. Authorities said the Lathams were co-owners with Calo of Michclina's Restaurant, 3241 E. Shea Blvd., and that Calo had fallen behind in paying thousands of dollars owed to them. Robert Richard Reese, 23, of Peoria, who disappeared Feb. 18, 1989, and whose body was found March 8, 1989, in a grave near Interstate 17 and New River Road. Reese, formerly of the Sacramento area, had been shot several times, authorities said. Investigators have linked Reese and Majors to the shooting death of Thomas Probst, 30; Probst's wife, Jeannine Copeland, 30; and a friend of the couple, Patrick Mungavin, 24, at Probst's house near Sacramento. Cali-' fornia authorities said the slayings appeared to be drug-related. Sentenced to death Majors, who was arrested in Phoenix on Feb. 22, 1989, and later extradited to California, was sentenced to death after jurors returned a verdict Nov. 20 finding him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. Calo was arrested March 15, 1989, in connection with the Arizona murders and has been held without bail in a Maricopa County jail. Investigators said tha.t Calo was tied to the Arizona deaths based on evidence seized in a search of Majors' home and storage locker, including jewelry and other items stolen from some of the victims. In court papers filed with Hall, Parker says that, in interviews with investigators on several occasions in March 1989, Calo admitted some involvement but claimed he acted out of fear of Majors. Parker said Calo admitted he knew of plans by Majors to rob the Chouchanes and Lathams, but didn't know they were going to be killed. He also admitted digging graves for Mancini and Reese, she said. "As to all of the crimes, Calo has asserted that he didn't personally participate in any of them or receive any of the receipts of the crimes,' the prosecutor said. Claiming violations of Calo's rights against self-incrimination, defense lawyers Simpson and Phil Noland have asked Hall that the statements be withheld from evidence at trial. 4 MOTHER'S DAY IS MAY 12 uess eau de toilette spray, 7 oz., $35 Oscar de la Renta parfum, .25 oz., $65 . Liz Claiborne's fN, if I "" -" I J J Realities eau de XS&f I A ' ' ' f I la -A-r.. y toilette spray, ' ,. 1 r-' ' - I 17oz'32-50 'P' ns I l 1 Liz Claibome ji Kmmi' '" J eau de toilette I . I spray, 1 oz., $24 J t . :s0" FRAGRANT FREESIA ONLY $5 Take home a Freesia plant, just $5 with a $35 purchase in our women's Fragrance or Accessories Departments Offer ends May 12, 1991. 'Excludet Estee louder Elizabeth Taylor's Passion eau de toilette spray, 2.5 oz., $45 BROADWAY SOUTHWEST OPEN A BROADWAY SOUTHWEST COLD ACCOUNT AND YOU WLL RECEIVE 10 Off A FULL DAY OF COLD ACCOUNT PURCHASES. JUST PRESENT YOUR VISA MASTERCARD AMERICAN EXPRESS 0 MAJOR CREDIT CARD. "SUBJECT TO CREDIT APPROVAL-MERCHANDISE EXCLUSIONS APPLY. wr mur io ah w i fin ai mnm emu rom jh m tos akcos umocimi and mum vuiir cau trnmn mots a otr wum: rmmx mm (rot m mm mm. nsim row usemitt m aruoha, isoo m-nn iwt mi hiasihc mma, mmm raw. m wacom out am mqawai souma coto acwim aso, m . mmom m m amuucau aptss s una.

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