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Andre Lamont MINNITT





Classification: Murderer?
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 3 ?
Date of murders: June 24, 1992
Date of birth: November 12, 1969
Victims profile: Store manager Fred Gee, 45; his uncle, Huang Ze Wan, 77; and clerk Raymond Arriola, 32
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Pima County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in 1994. Overturned. Retrial ended in a hung jury. Minnitt was tried a third time, convicted and sentenced to death in 1999, but the Arizona Supreme Court ordered the conviction overturned and the charges dismissed with prejudice in 2002. Minnitt remains in prison to serve a 36-year sentence from an unrelated conviction

Supreme Court of Arizona

state of arizona v. andre lamont minnitt
in the matter of kenneth j. peasley

Roopali H. Desai

double jeopardy protection in the context of prosecutorial misconduct

ADC# 073713
Date of Birth: November 12, 1969
Defendant: Black 
Victim: Chinese

Andre Minnitt, Martin Soto-Fong and Christoper McCrimmon, decided to rob the El Grande Market, where Fong had previously worked, and kill anyone who was present to eliminate potential witnesses.

On June 24, 1992, they drove to the market in a distinctive car. Inside the market, Soto-Fong gathered two bags of produce, approached the cash register counter where the owner waited, and produced a .25 caliber autoloading pistol.

He took all the money he could find, about $300, and then began shooting the three persons in the market, Fred Gee, Ray Arriola, and Zewan Hong.

Minnitt ran into the store and joined Soto-Fong in shooting the victims to death. McCrimmon stood at the doorway to the market, armed with a handgun.

All of the victims were shot in the head, execution-style. Neighbors heard the shots and saw the distinctive car leave the market. The police later discovered the car, and the car and fingerprints at the market tied Soto-Fong and his accomplices to the murders.

On June 24, 1992, Minnitt and his co-defendants Christopher McCrimmon and Martin Soto Fong robbed the El Grande Market in Tucson. Soto Fong had worked at the market and was familiar with its closing procedures. The threesome went to the market in McCrimmon's car, which was later found abandoned a short distance from the market. Inside the market, Soto Fong put a few items in a produce bag, approached the cash register counter, and paid for the items with food stamps. Soto-Fong shot the manager, Fred Gee. Both Soto-Fong and Minnitt shot two other employees who were in the store at the time. Minnitt was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, seven additional counts of armed robbery, aggravated robbery and burglary.

On direct appeal, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed Minnitt's and McCrimmon's (who were tried together) convictions based on a juror coercion issue. Minnitt's retrial in 1997 ended with a hung jury

Another jury was empaneled and Minnitt was again convicted on April 19, 1999 of three counts of first-degree murder and several non-capital offenses.


Presiding Judge: Robert Buchanan (first trial) Richard Nichols (retrial)
Prosecutor: Ken Peasley (first trial) David White (retrial)
Defense: Barry Baker-Sipe, Carla Ryan (first trial) Eric Larsen and Wanda Day (retrial)
Start of Trial: November 2, 1993 (first trial) April 12, 1999 (retrial)
Verdicts: November 29, 1993 (first trial) April 19, 1999 (retrial)
Sentencing: January 31, 1994 (first trial) June 25, 1999 (retrial)

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Retrial Previous conviction for a serious offense
    Pecuniary gain
    Multiple homicides

Mitigating Circumstances:

    Statutory: Capacity to appreciate/conform conduct
   Non-Statutory: dysfunctional/unstable family, deprived childhood, father's incarceration, lack of guidance and family nurturing, poor educational experience, drug and alcohol abuse, whippings and violence experienced as a child, and mother's drug use


State v. Minnitt, 187 Ariz. 169, 927 P.2d 1298 (1996).

Andre MINNITT: Received Minute Entry CR 40086 Dated 1/13/03 vacating sentence and conviction - case dismissed with prejudice - Death penalty sentence is vacated


El Grande murder conviction tossed out

The state Supreme Court finds misconduct by a Pima County prosecutor and calls a 3rd trial a violation of the double-jeopardy law. 

The Tucson Citizen

October 12, 2002  

Misconduct by a top Pima County prosecutor prompted the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the conviction and death sentence of a Tucson man accused of gunning down three people in the El Grande Market slayings. Justices accused embattled former county prosecutor Kenneth Peasley of soliciting false testimony from a police homicide detective during two murder trials for Andre Lamont Minnitt, 32.

The court ruled that Minnitt's third trial for the killings, conducted by a different county prosecutor, violated the state's double-jeopardy law. The court ruling does not free Minnitt, because he will remain in prison on an unrelated conviction.

The state Supreme Court overturned Minnitt's 1st murder conviction and ordered a new trial. The 2nd trial ended with a hung jury, forcing a mistrial.

According to a court opinion released yesterday, justices said Minnitt's 3rd trial, which ended in a conviction and a death sentence, violated double-jeopardy laws because of alleged false testimony solicited in the previous 2 trials by Peasley.

"The prosecutor, with full knowledge, introduced false testimony in two trials and this seriously damaged the structural integrity of both," Chief Justice Charles E. Jones wrote.

"Whether or not the 3rd trial was free from false testimony, falsehoods in the 2 previous trials permeated the process to the extent that fairness in the 3rd trial could not correct the misdeeds of trials 1 and 2." 2 other defendants also were tried for the murders, which were committed June 24, 1992, at the now-defunct South Side market.

One was convicted and remains on death row. The other was acquitted in a retrial.

In July, an Arizona Supreme Court hearing officer ruled that Peasley should face a 60-day suspension and a year's probation with a limited caseload for alleged misconduct in the El Grande case.

A state Supreme Court disciplinary committee has yet to issue a formal punishment.

Peasley was assigned in April to the civil division of the County Attorney's Office and "is no longer responsible for criminal prosecution," Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said.

"I have worked tirelessly to ensure this office acted with integrity and maintained the trust of the public it was created to serve. In this instance, the Arizona Supreme Court has found otherwise, and for that I am embarrassed for the office and personally saddened," LaWall wrote in a statement.

Minnitt will remain in prison to serve a 36-year sentence from an unrelated conviction.

Minnitt and an El Grande co-defendant, Christopher McCrimmon, are serving 36-year terms for robbing Mariano's Pizza, 5528 E. Grant Road, on Aug. 26, 1992.

In the El Grande killings, McCrimmon was acquitted by a jury in 1997 in his 2nd trial after his 1st verdict was reversed because of alleged juror coercion.

The other defendant, Martin Raul Soto-Fong, remains on death row as he appeals the case.

Store manager Fred Gee, 45; his uncle, Huang Ze Wan, 77; and clerk Raymond Arriola, 32, were found shot to death at the store, 805 E. 36th St.


Supreme Court disbars Peasley

The disbarment stems from allowing a Tucson police detective to lie while testifying in two capital murder trials.

A.J. Flick - Tucson Citizen

May 29, 2004

The Arizona Supreme Court has disbarred a former Pima County prosecutor for allowing a Tucson police detective to lie on the stand in two capital murder trials.

In a unanimous decision issued yesterday, the justices said evidence "clearly and convincingly" supports the contention that Kenneth J. Peasley intentionally violated ethical laws in allowing Joseph Godoy to testify falsely at trials in a 1992 triple homicide.

"Peasley violated his duty as a prosecutor to seek justice," Justice Michael D. Ryan wrote in the disbarment opinion.

"By presenting false testimony in the prosecution of two defendants charged with capital murder, Peasley violated one of the most important duties of a lawyer," Ryan wrote.

The disbarment case stems from trials for Andre Minnitt and Christopher McCrimmon in a triple slaying at the now-defunct El Grande Market, near South Park Avenue and East 36th Street.

At Peasley's prompting, former Tucson police Detective Godoy testified during a 1993 combined trial for Minnitt and McCrimmon and again at a Minnitt retrial in 1997 that neither was a suspect until key witness Keith Woods reported that both defendants had confessed to him.

But Godoy had determined both were suspects before he talked with Woods, a Supreme Court hearing officer found.

Godoy's testimony was meant to counter any defense attorney's suggestion that Godoy fed Woods information about the defendants, the hearing officer wrote.

A perjury case against Godoy was taken to state grand juries three times. One grand jury refused to indict. Two others indicted him, but both charges were later dismissed. He retired before the first indictment in 2001.

The justices found Peasley's misconduct caused harm because he "sought and obtained the convictions and the death penalty against two capital murder defendants, using false testimony to establish a crucial fact."

"Such harm is particularly egregious," Ryan wrote.

Peasley retired from the Pima County Attorney's Office in December 2002, after a state Supreme Court panel and the State Bar recommend disbarment. He had worked for the office for 28 years and was named twice as Arizona prosecutor of the year.

County Attorney Barbara LaWall is out of town and unavailable for comment, according to her spokesman, Dan Benavidez.

Peasley has been working with attorney Brick P. Storts III, who said yesterday that Peasley will continue to work in his office as a paralegal.

"He's one of the brightest lawyers I've ever worked with," Storts said.

Godoy also works in Storts' office.

After five years, Peasley may ask the Supreme Court for reinstatement to the Bar.

Peasley could not be reached for comment.

Attorney James W. Stuehringer argued to the Supreme Court in November that Peasley's due-process rights were violated in a disbarment hearing because a report was allowed by the hearing officer that noted findings of misconduct from a Pima County Superior Court judge who was later found to have been influenced by FBI agents.

Yesterday, the justices disagreed that Peasley's rights were violated.

Stuehringer told the Supreme Court that Peasley deserves leniency, such as a 60-day suspension, because in 28 years of practicing law "there is not a single mark against him."

Minnitt and McCrimmon were convicted and sentenced to death in the killings. Those convictions later were overturned because of problems unrelated to the alleged perjury. McCrimmon was acquitted in his second trial, and Minnitt's retrial ended in a hung jury.

Minnitt was tried a third time, convicted and sentenced to death, but the Arizona Supreme Court ordered the conviction overturned and the charges dismissed with prejudice - meaning they can't be refiled - because of Peasley's and Godoy's actions.

Minnitt remains in prison on unrelated convictions.

A third man, Martin R. Soto-Fong, was convicted of first-degree murder in the killings and was sentenced to death. He is in prison on death row.



Andre Lamont Minnitt



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