Date of Birth: November 12, 1969
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
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.
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)
Retrial Previous conviction for a serious offense
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).
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
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
"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
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