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Martin Raul SOTO-FONG





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Robbery - Juvenile (17)
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: June 24, 1992
Date of birth: October 6, 1974
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 on February 3, 1994. Resentenced to three consecutive life sentences on February 20, 2006

Date of Birth: October 6, 1974
Defendant: Hispanic
Victim: Asian 2

Soto-Fong and his two accomplices, Andre Minnitt 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. Minnett 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.


    Presiding Judge: Robert Buchanan
    Prosecutor: Ken Peasley
    Start of Trial:  October 13, 1993
    Verdict:  October 27, 1993
    Sentencing: February 3, 1994

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Pecuniary gain   
    Especially cruel, heinous or depraved (cruelty for two of the victims; heinous and depraved for all three victims)
    Multiple homicides

Mitigating Circumstances:

    Lack of extensive or violent criminal history
    Gainfully employed
    Supportive family


    State v. Soto-Fong, 187 Ariz. 186, 928 P.2d 610 (1996).



Man gets 75 years in El Grande murders

By Kim Smith - Arizona Daily Star

February 22, 2006

One of Tucson's most infamous murder cases may finally be over.

Martin Soto-Fong was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences Tuesday, nearly 14 years after authorities say he and two other men walked into a South Side market and gunned down three people.

Soto-Fong, 31, will have to serve 75 years before becoming eligible for parole for the June 1992 murders of Fred Gee, 45; Gee's uncle, Huang Zee Wan, 75; and Raymond F. Arriola, 32.

Soto-Fong was convicted for his part in the El Grande Market slayings and sent to death row in 1993. However, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for juveniles last year and Fong, who was four months shy of 18 when the slayings took place, was granted a new sentencing hearing.

With the death penalty off the table, Pima County Superior Court Judge Clark Munger had only to decide whether Soto-Fong's life sentences should run concurrently or consecutively. He ran them consecutively, meaning he will have to serve 25 years on each sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Before the sentence was announced, Soto-Fong took the opportunity to apologize to the victims' families, but again proclaimed his innocence and disdain for the former prosecutor and detective who handled his case.

"I can't say I totally understand how the legal system works, but I remain hopeful the high court will review my case" and overturn the convictions, Soto-Fong said.

Richard Gee, Fred Gee's younger brother, said Soto-Fong has essentially won.

"They prevailed because he's off death row," Gee said. "If his family wants to see him, all they've got to do is go to prison and kiss and hug him on visitor's day. If I want to go see my family, I've got to go to the graveyard and hug their gravestones."

The El Grande Market case ended up on the front pages more often because of the actions of the lead prosecutor and detective in the case than the crime itself.

The Arizona Supreme Court disbarred two-time prosecutor of the year Ken Peasley in May 2004 after the State Bar filed a complaint claiming Peasley elicited false testimony from Joseph Godoy, a former Tucson police detective, during 1993 and 1997 trials involving the case.

The state's high court found that Peasley allowed Godoy to falsely testify that Christopher McCrimmon, Andre Lamont Minnitt and Soto-Fong weren't suspects before a key witness interview, but police actually had investigated them earlier.

Peasley, who worked as a lawyer in Pima County for more than a quarter-century and served as chief criminal deputy county attorney before retiring, said he made honest mistakes during the trial because of overwork and health issues.

Minnitt's conviction was overturned and McCrimmon was eventually acquitted. In Minnitt's case, justices wrote a scathing opinion that said Peasley "engaged in extreme misconduct" that was "grossly improper and highly prejudicial" to Minnitt and the criminal-justice system.

Soto-Fong's repeated attempts to have his convictions overturned have failed. According to authorities, the former store employee's fingerprints were found on one of two food stamps lying next to Gee's body and two plastic bags lying on a countertop.

Peasley and Godoy, who retired from the Tucson Police Department after being indicted on perjury charges, now work for defense attorney Brick Storts. The perjury charges against Godoy were later dismissed.



Martin R. Soto-Fong



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