Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on May 6, 1992 · Page 10
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 10

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Wednesday, May 6, 1992
Page 10
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VALLEY K STAT is la JL Ml m MfLijj COLUMNS & PUZZLESB12 OBITUARIES B13 WEDNESDAY MAY 6, 1992 Phoenix death a mistakee 'hit'? y " MONTINI E.J. Republic Columnist Execution crowd loses on this case f 11 he brutal murder of pizza I deliverywoman Linda Reynolds was a glorious event for the Executioner's Club, that throng of death-penalty advocates who seem to be out there, day and night, salivating in anticipation over the next hideous murder that comes to light. They love to hear about violent deaths, to learn all the bloody details, then to light up the switchboards of newspapers, TV stations and talk-radio shows, exhorting the state to buy new cyanide pellets and polish up the gas chamber in anticipation of the moment the killers are caught. The Linda Reynolds murder was like that. On April 7, the day her body was found and the day after the state executed Don Eugene Harding, local airwaves were filled with people saving it was iust the kind of case that proved the need for a death penalty. She was the mother of three. She was working a couple of jobs. She had her whole life to look forward to. Again and again, I heard, "A person who kills someone like that doesn't deserve to live." .' Npw, the police say the persons who killed Linda Reynolds have been caught. The suspects are two teen-agers, and police say they also killed taxi-cab driver David Lacey and convenience-store clerk Harold Drury. And maybe even others. If it's true, then we're talking about a couple of the worst serial killers in the state's history, the kind of killers who Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods would love to use as steppingstones in his political career. A staircase he appears eager to build with dead bodies. Ridiculous farce Only this time, there's a hitch. If it turns out that the police are right, that the two teen-agers currently in custody are responsible for these murders, then the Executioner's Club might have to alter its party invitations for the execution-night bash. Instead of being a perfect example of why we should execute killers, the Linda Reynolds case may, instead, turn out to be the perfect example of why the death penalty is a ridiculous farce that shouldn't exist. One of the suspects, Chad Allen Loe, is 19 years old. The other, David Scott Hunt, is only 14. In the end, both may be found guilty of murder in the first degree. Only one of them, however, could be executed. Arizona state law doesn't put an age restriction on executions. The U.S. Supreme Court, though, has ruled that killing anyone under 16 would be cruel and unusual punishment. Death-penalty proponents say that execution is meant as a punishment for a specific crime, like the murder of Linda Reynolds. Tl 4. f - A T i iiiai, ui uuuisc, imi i uue. i suspect we knew it wasn't, all along. We're willing to kill a 19-year-old murderer because we're able to convince ourselves, sort of, that he is a "grown-up." But, we're not willing to kill a child. That, we say, would be too barbaric. Even if we're talking about a 14-year-old whose crime spree left at least three people dead. Even if it means supporting that 14-year-old in prison for what could be 70 or 80 years. Which eliminates another argument used by members of the Executioner's Club: It's better to execute them than to pay to keep killers alive. As it turns out, we don't really believe that, either. Blood lust and elections We don't want to kill all killers. We just want to kill a few. It's what we do to satisfy a blood lust. And to help get certain politicians elected. The killers of Linda Reynolds and David Lacey and Harold Drury should be removed from society, permanently. But they also should be treated equally. If Lee and Hunt are the killers, there are only two ways to treat them the same. We can either kill them both, or we can put them both in prison for life. We can't kill , them both, however, because one is only 14. At least, that's the excuse we use. What the members of the Executioner's Club don't yet understand, I guess, is that it's not the age of a murderer that makes killing him barbaric. '. It's the killing itself. TV show to feature mystery By Abraham Kwok The Arizona Republic The file on Doug Johnston compiled by the Phoenix police homicide detail summarizes simply: death unknown. A 35-year-old computer technician, Johnston was shot once in the back of the head as he sat in his beat-up Toyota station wagon in the 2200 block of West Northern Avenue while awaiting the start of a midnight work shift one night in May 1990. Police had suspected a possible suicide, committed because of a stack of debts estimated at $14,000. The problem was, the pistol used was never found. And the likelihood that the right-handed Johnston would shoot himself behind the left ear seemed implausible. Now, two years later, his death is the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries show, airing today, that proposes a scenario even more complex and strange: Johnston was killed in a professional "hit" meant for a free-lance, investigative reporter. The reporter, Don Devereux, drove a car like Johnston's and lived across the street from the parking lot where Johnston was found. Both had beards and shared a similar build. The TV program, which will be shown at 7 p.m. on KPNX-TV (Channel 12), suggests that Devereux may have been targeted because of his probe into the 1977 death of Tucson escrow agent Charles C. Morgan. Devereux contends that Morgan worked for a mob network that smuggled gold bullion out of Southeast Asia. Morgan's body was found in the desert with a bulletproof vest on and a .357 Magnum slug in the back of Morgan's head. Morgan's case was featured, with Devereux's help, as an Unsolved Mysteries segment in February 1990, three months before Johnston's death. "I'm not here to tell you for certain that the bullet that Johnston took was meant for me," Devereux said this week, "or that there's a known contract out on me for looking into the bullion conspiracy. "But I do know that I'm concerned." He said he has received warnings from Phoenix police and others, including a Feb. 1 call from a reporter with CIA sources who intimated that the Johnston shooting was "a botched job." "And that they will probably come See VALLEY, page B2 ;, J Doug Johnston His shooting death in May 1990 is the subject of an Unsolved Mysteries show, airing today. Rattlers become tattlers Radios placed in Valley snakes By Fred Smith The Arizona Republic Behold that snake in the grass. Aside from the distinctive diamond patterns on its back and its telltale rattles, this particular resident of McDowell Mountain Park north of Fountain Hills is equipped with something more than its ferocious fangs. This Western diamondback rattlesnake, and three other rattlers, are serving as sort of guinea pigs in a scientific experiment. After being captured in the wilds of the preserve, the rattlers were taken to a laboratory at Arizona State University-West, where radio-telemetry devices were implanted beneath their skins before they were returned to the park. "We want to learn what makes these things tick, especially in the urban areas," said David Duvall, a zoology professor at ASU-West and a snake fancier for most of his 44 years. "This little radio, which won't hurt the snake one little bit, will enable us to learn more about where snakes go, and why." Duvall, who joined the ASU-West faculty two years ago after teaching at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Wyoming in Laramie, has written several research papers about prairie rattlers. He decided about 10 years ago to use the radio-telemetry devices in connection with his studies after he discovered that tracking snakes on foot yielded little more than sore feet. In this study, Duvall and his team expect to uncover information about such characteristics as mating habits and the places snakes favor for feeding. j 0 TV ' i . Sundi KjenstadThe Arizona Republic David Duvall, a zoology professor at ASU-West, holds a rattlesnake being used in a research study. "We want to learn what makes these things tick," he says. About three weeks ago, Duvall and one of his graduate students in zoology, Andy Holycross of Bellevue, Neb., captured the first of their rattlers for their ASU-West study at the park northeast of Phoenix. In a lab at the university, each snake was anesthetized about 20 minutes before surgery. Then, a foot-long ruler was tied to its neck to eliminate the possibility of a surprise bite. The surgery involved cutting a small slit in the stomach area, and inserting a transmitter, about the size of two quarters glued together, and its antenna. Visitors to the park and later other Valley preserves as the study expands could see some rather odd sights as the tracking occurs. They'll see folks walking around with U-shaped antennas and wearing earphones with wires leading to receivers used to pick up signals from the snakes' transmitters. Duvall promises the signals will help tell interesting tales based on where the snakes are found. 'AzScam' claim: Police were told Ortega 'on take' By Susan Leonard The Arizona Republic Phoenix police were informed in 1990 that then-Chief Ruben Ortega allegedly had been "on the take" for years and may have been involved in illegal drug activity, it was revealed Tuesday during an "AzScam" trial. But the department's organized-crime bureau chose not to pursue the allegations, which were relayed to authorities by undercover agent Joseph Stedino, the key player in the political-corruption "sting." Stedino reportedly claimed that he had received the information from Phoenix bail bondsman and lobbyist Ron Tapp, who, along with former state Sen. Carolyn Walker, is being tried for bribery as a result of AzScam. The allegations about Ortega were brought up by Murray Miller, an attorney for Walker. Miller contends that police were selective about which tips they pursued during AzScam, which began when Stedino informed Phoenix police that he had heard that Arizona legislators could be bought. Ortega, who retired last year, could not be reached for comment. In another development, Tapp's attorney, Larry Debus, said Gary Bartlett, a former hearing officer for the state, had told Stedino in 1990 that "you can't buy" legislators. Police and prosecutors say they started AzScam after Bartlett told Stedino in December 1989 that legislators could be bought for cash, drugs or sex. But Debus said Bartlett told Stedino the opposite on March 1, 1990. Bureau never investigated chief Sgt. Dennis Davis of the organized-crime bureau testified Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court that the bureau never investigated Ortega. But he said he doesn't know whether the tip had been passed along to another police agency. Miller asked Davis about Ortega after pulling out a memo a detective had written April 17, 1990, which reported that Tapp claimed that Ortega "had been on the take since he was a captain" and may have been involved in illegal drug activity. Police Chief Dennis Garrett and Assistant Chief Bennie Click said Tuesday that they never had heard of the allegations and aren't aware of any investigation of Ortega. Click said that numerous names and allegations were bandied about during AzScam, and that police decided not to investigate many allegations that obviously had been made by people engaging in "a lot of puffing and a lot of exaggerating." "If it appeared there were any validity or any substance (to such an allegation), we would have turned it over to another agency," Click said. See ORTEGA, pageB2 $6 million Valley drug sweep Many properties seized, 4 arrested By Jim Walsh The Arizona Republic An army of federal agents seized $6 million in property during Valley raids Tuesday morning and arrested four people accused of smuggling thousands of pounds of marijuana into Arizona and two other states. "It's like a scene from Miami Vice," said Margie Navarro, a desk clerk at Ward's Motor Lodge, 3037 E. Van Buren St., one of the properties seized. "It's weird coming to work, finding all the police cars around and not knowing what's going on." Agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies removed boxes of records, and used dogs to search rooms at the recently renovated motel. Arrested was property owner Rodolfo Magana Osuna of Chandler, who was charged in a federal indictment, unsealed Tuesday, with heading a multimillion-dollar con spiracy to smuggle marijuana from Mexico to Arizona, Texas and Minnesota. Since 1987, a dozen members of the Magana organization have been smuggling marijuana across the border, storing it in a variety of Phoenix "stash houses" and distributing it to dealers in the three states, according to the indictment. In the raids, agents also arrested Oscar Damian Medina of Phoenix, Kelly Brent of Mesa, and Thomas Glen Mayo of Texas. Eight other suspects still were being sought Tuesday afternoon. "We think it was a very successful operation because you don't just have the people at the bottom of the organization," said Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela B. Gullett. "We have some of the people at the top." Besides the motel, the agents seized the Greenridge Apartments, 3830 W. McDowell Road; Maxi-mo's Bar, 3216 W. Van Buren St.; Magana's home in Chandler; Ma-gana's former home in Tempe; and the site of a former Mexican restaurant, 614 N. 35th Ave., Phoenix. The indictment alleges that profits from the smuggling ring were laundered through purchase of the properties. "They caught me by surprise. I didn't know what was going on," said Jack Sanchez, who managed the motel and apartments. Sanchez said he has worked for Magana for three years and that his boss was supportive, readily spending substantial amounts of money on improvements to the nearly 30-year-old motel. "All I know is we worked hard to build this place up, and its all for naught now," Sanchez said. Maricopa County real-estate records show that Magana paid $181,900 for the Chandler house in 1988; $950,000 for the motel in 1991; and $960,000 for the bar and adjoining property in 1990. Norman McDougall, a Scotts-dale builder, said Magana paid $1.6 million for the 72-unit apartment complex in 1989. "He told us that his dad was a wetlthy landowner in Mexico. That's all we know," McDougall said. He said he assumed Magana was legitimate when a savings bank approved a $1 million mortgage, after the suspect plunked down $600,000. Gullett said the motel and the apartments will remain open. A restaurant that rented space from the suspect will be allowed to remain open but the bar probably will be closed, she added. Residents of the apartment complex who called the U.S. Attorney's Office were assured that they will not be evicted, she said. Pride and joy Mexican style V" ' -X. i-,.- .-5 ft !.? 1 i -mm m..m mf I $ r X Suzanne StarrThe Arizona Republic Dancers Maria Ibarra, 7 (left), and Alma Vasquez, 12, of Monica's Ballet Folklorico prepare for slippery floors before performing at C.J. Jorgensen Elementary School in Phoenix. The group visited several schools Tuesday as part of a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The Mexican holiday celebrates a victory over powerful French troops in the 1860s.

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