Killer of yoga instructor sentenced to 13 years
By Brad Poole - TucsonCitizen.com
October 18, 2005
A Tucson woman who killed a local yoga instructor
was sentenced yesterday to 13 years for second-degree murder.
Amber Lynn Trudell, 30, was convicted July 15 of
second-degree murder in the death of Michael Albert Dojaquez, 45, who
was found shot to death on his front porch Sept. 26, 2003. Her first
trial ended in a hung jury in March.
During the sentencing hearing in Pima County
Superior Court, Judge Richard S. Fields heard testimony from
Dojaquez’s ex-wife, Tracy Wise; two of his daughters, Vanessa
Dojaquez, 15, and Brianna Dojaquez, 20; his younger brother, Robert
Dojaquez; and his mother, Lydia Dojaquez.
Brianna Dojaquez will miss the times she had with
her father, who took her to the Gaslight Theatre to see plays and took
her in costumes to a Renaissance fair, she said.
She regrets that his grandchildren, including her
son, will never see him again.
“They’ll never know what a wonderful person he was
and the wonderful things he brought to this world,” she said.
The defense called Trudell’s grandmother, Ethel H.
Jones, 87, to testify by telephone. She lives out of state and said
she is worried that she might not get to see Amber again if the
sentence is long, she said.
Jones asked for a light sentence so Amber could
become a productive citizen.
“She could go out and get some more education and
get a good job and become a resident of a community,” she said.
The Dojaquez family has been overwhelmed by the
outpouring of support from Michael’s friends and the entire community
since his slaying, Lydia Dojaquez said.
“Mike was important to us, of course, but we never
realized what he had found out in the world,” she said of her son’s
life after he left Arivaca, where he grew up.
After her testimony, she turned to Trudell.
“And may God forgive the young lady,” she said
Trudell will have to serve 85 percent of the
13-year sentence, with credit for 725 days already served. She will
then serve one day of probation for every day she serves in prison,
Trudell, who had an affair with Dojaquez, claimed
he had become despondent after having beaten and sexually assaulted
her. He grabbed her hand, which was holding a handgun, forced the
weapon to his forehead and pulled the trigger, she testified.
The defense claimed Trudell killed Dojaquez after
he asked to end their relationship.
Trudell Sentenced for Yoga Instructor's Murder
By J.D. Wallace - TucsonNewsMow.com
October 17, 2005
Pictures of Michael Dojaquez show a happiness and
zest for life that the 45-year-old yoga instructor was known for, but
his family says they're nothing compared to the real thing.
"My son will never get to hear him say, "Keep it
squeezy," or "Oom-bop-uh-loom-bop-a-wang-bang-boom." He'll never get
to hear that again. All I have now are pictures and memories,” said
Brianna Dojaquez, the 20-year-old daughter of Michael Dojaquez, in
court on Monday.
Dojaquez was shot to death in September 2003. His
lover, 30-year-old Amber Trudell, was convicted of second degree
murder in her second trial, after the first ended in a hung jury. At
her sentencing on Monday, she displayed little emotion as Dojaquez's
daughters, brother, and mother weighed in.
"The world has a lot of sadness, and has a lot of
wrong things with it, and he was the perfect antidote,” said Lydia
Dojaquez, Michael Dojaquez’s mother.
"I can only think that you are a woman with no
conscience and no guilt. And for you to pull the trigger that night
and kill my brother, I have not yet found it in my heart to forgive
you,” said Robert Dojaquez, Michael Dojaquez’s brother.
Prosecutor Kathleen Mayer requested the maximum
sentence, 16 years. She said that even if Trudell didn't plan
Dojaquez's murder, she drew the gun that would kill him. But Public
Defender Tom Martin wanted ten years for Trudell. He said that
Trudell's sexual abuse as a child has possibly clouded her judgement
"Michael would not be up here demanding the maximum
sentence for her because of the humanistic view of life he had,” Tom
Ultimately, neither side would be happy, as Trudell
received 13 years.
"I think it was unfair. I think she should have got
more than 13. I think she should have got more than 16. I think she
should have gotten the rest of her life, because that's how long I get
to spend without my dad,” Brianna Dojaquez said.
Public Defender Tom Martin says he’ll likely appeal
Jury: Trudell killed yoga teacher
By La Monica Everett-Haynes and A.J. Flick -
July 16, 2005
The conviction of Amber Lynn Trudell brought relief
to the family of a slain yoga instructor.
Trudell, on trial a second time in the killing of
her yoga instructor- lover, was convicted yesterday of second-degree
murder. This time, jurors said it was easy to conclude that Trudell,
30, killed Michael Albert Dojaquez, 45, who was found shot to death on
the porch of his home, near North Sparkman Boulevard and North Country
Club Road, on Sept. 26, 2003.
Trudell may receive 10 to 22 years in prison. Even
without the sentencing, Robert Dojaquez, the victim’s brother, said
the conviction has brought some serenity.
“My brother’s soul can finally rest, and it gives
us some satisfaction and trust in the justice system,” he said. “There
is a certain degree of closure, but not a day goes by that I don’t
want to pick up the phone and call my brother.”
The conviction comes more than three months after a
Pima County Superior Court judge declared a hung jury in Trudell’s
Jurors reached agreement this time.
“She told us she had the gun in her hand, it was a
proven fact that it was loaded, and she told us she allowed it to be
pointed to his head,” juror Nathan Wilson said after the verdict.
Deputy County Attorney Kathleen Mayer said while
she had hoped the jury would convict Trudell of first-degree murder,
which requires premeditation, she wasn’t surprised at the verdict.
“It’s awfully hard to prove premeditation when no
one really knows what happened,” said Mayer, who took over the case
after Susan Eazer, who prosecuted Trudell during the first trial, left
the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
Trudell, an accountant, was married when she met
Michael Dojaquez at Yoga Oasis, 2631 N. Campbell Ave. According to
testimony, Trudell took group classes with Dojaquez, then private
classes with him. Soon after they met, the couple had an affair.
In both trials, Trudell insisted that Dojaquez
became angry when she wanted to leave his house to return to her
Trudell said Dojaquez sexually assaulted and beat
her but was so contrite about it that he became suicidal, grabbing her
hand with the pistol and pointing it to his forehead, forcing her to
pull the trigger.
The day after Dojaquez was killed, Trudell left
with her husband for Show Low, where they buried the pistol. Within a
week, Trudell had moved to New York state without her husband. There,
she was arrested on Oct. 23, 2003. The status of their marriage was
not immediately clear.
Prosecutors at both trials argued that it was out
of character for Dojaquez to become so violent. They also argued that
Trudell shot Dojaquez because he wanted to break off their
relationship, as he had told friends.
“The facts were in line with the parts of law that
would convict her, at least on second-degree murder,” Wilson said.
It was Trudell’s testimony that left the jury with
enough confidence to give her the conviction, he said.
“Her testimony was one of the only things we had to
go by,” he said.
After the verdict, several of Dojaquez’s family
members met in the lobby to hug and thank members of the jury.
Albert Dojaquez, the victim’s father, said it would
take time before he could express his feelings, but he spoke fondly of
“He never did hurt anybody. He would help anyone,”
Dojaquez said. “He was a very caring person.”
That’s something Trudell likely would not
understand, said Robert Dojaquez.
“To this day, she does not realize the value of
this man’s life,” he said. “Her lack of emotion – she had no
conscience, no remorse. Had she realized, she wouldn’t have killed my
Judge Michael J. Cruikshank, taking over the trial
for the vacationing Judge Richard S. Fields, set July 26 as the day to
determine the sentencing date.
Trudell to be retried for murder June 28
By A.J. Flick - TucsonCitizen.com
April 7, 2005
Trudell, 29, will stand trial for a second time in the slaying of her
lover, Michael Albert Dojaquez, 45.
Superior Court Judge Richard S. Fields set a June 28 trial date for
Trudell, whose first trial ended in a hung jury.
again are seeking a first-degree murder conviction against Trudell.
Jurors in the first trial split on first-degree or second-degree
murder, and manslaughter.
testified last month that Dojaquez pulled the trigger because he was
despondent that she was returning to her husband.
Trudell shot Dojaquez because he refused to marry her.
Tucson immediately after the killing and was arrested in New York
State to retry Trudell in slaying
By David L. Teibel - TucsonCitizen.com
March 30, 2005
The prosecutor in the trial of a woman accused of
killing her yoga instructor-lover says the state will retry the case
after a judge declared a hung jury yesterday.
Jurors deliberating the fate of Amber Lynn Trudell
believed she killed Michael Albert Dojaquez, but they could not agree
on the level of homicide, one of the jurors later said.
Jurors were considering charges of first-degree
murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter against Trudell, 29.
Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Frank Dawley declared
the hung jury yesterday after questioning each of the jurors.
Dawley set a case status conference for April 6
before Superior Court Judge Richard S. Fields. Dawley was presiding
over jury deliberations while Fields, the trial judge, is on vacation.
Jim Swope, a former medical claims processor and
the only juror to tell Dawley further deliberations might help, said
in the final vote of the eight-man, four-woman jury that nine jurors
voted for first-degree murder, two for second-degree murder and one
for manslaughter. Dawley’s hung-jury declaration came after an unusual
courtroom twist about 2 1/2 hours earlier.
Jurors returned to court yesterday morning to hear
additional closing statements from attorneys after the jury, during
deliberations Friday, asked Dawley to clarify elements of first- and
While Dawley gave jurors written answers to such
things as the meaning of “sudden quarrel,” “heat of passion” and
“reflection,” attorneys asked to reopen closing statements to discuss
Closing arguments had wrapped up last week, and
jury deliberations began Thursday.
Swope said the second round of closing arguments
had a “major” effect on how fellow jurors voted.
In yesterday’s closing statements, prosecutor Susan
Eazer told jurors that Trudell and Dojaquez, 45, continued a quarrel
the night he was killed, with Trudell wanting him to marry her and
Dojaquez spurning the married woman.
The couple went out drinking together Sept. 25,
2003, and about 1 the next morning returned to Dojaquez’s home on
North Sparkman Boulevard, where he was later killed.
Eazer told jurors the quarrel was ongoing and not
in the heat of passion, noting that Trudell got her pistol, put it to
Dojaquez’s forehead and shot him to death on his front porch.
Eazer told jurors there was no evidence Trudell was
beaten or sexually assaulted the night of the killing, as Trudell had
Trudell testified that after she was raped, she got
her gun, screamed, “I didn’t deserve this,” trashed Dojaquez’s house
and was leaving when he confronted her on the porch. Dojaquez
apologized, Trudell said, took her hand with the gun in it, put it to
his forehead and fired.
Assistant Public Defender Suzanne Crawford argued
that if Trudell should be convicted, it should be for manslaughter
because the shooting was not premeditated.
“Michael Dojaquez raped Amber Trudell,” Crawford
told jurors. “She is being portrayed as the villain, and he is being
portrayed as a saint,” which Crawford said is not true.
Suspect brought here in yoga teacher killing
By David L. Teibel - TucsonCitizen.com
November 18, 2003
A woman arrested in New York in the slaying of
local yoga instructor Michael Albert Dojaquez is back in Tucson to
face a first-degree murder charge.
Amber Lynn Trudell, 28, was returned from upstate
New York, where she was arrested by deputy U.S. marshals and New York
state police late last month.
She waived extradition proceedings and was booked
into the Pima County Jail Saturday. She was ordered held on $1 million
bail at an initial court appearance Sunday, authorities said.
Trudell was returned here without incident, said
Deputy Dawn Barkman, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. The Sheriff’s Department
is responsible for extradition transportation and operates the county
jail. The homicide is under investigation by city police.
After police obtained an Arizona arrest warrant,
Trudell was taken into custody at a relative’s home in Ogdensburg, a
town of about 12,000 in rural upstate New York.
Trudell had been held in the St. Lawrence County
Jail in Canton, N.Y. She is charged in the Sept. 26 slaying of
A neighbor found Dojaquez shot to death on the
front porch of his home on North Sparkman Boulevard, near North
Country Club and East Grant roads, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, a police
Police believe Trudell knew Dojaquez through the
Yoga Oasis, 2631 N. Campbell Ave. Borboa said. He said they may have
known each other for more than a year. A court document in New York
said Trudell and Dojaquez had a relationship.
Authorities believe Trudell left Arizona on Oct. 7
and drove to Connecticut and then to New York.