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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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10/13/2011 10:02:00 PM
County preps for four death-penalty trials in burned body murder case
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Yavapai County is preparing for the possibility that the four defendants in the Clifford Williamson murder case could each face the death penalty in their trials, and is hiring attorneys qualified to work capital cases, said a county official Thursday.

The defendants - Robert Hinderliter, 20; Joseph Parsons, 27; Juan Carlos Sanchez, 23; and Veronica Rutherford, 30 - all face multiple-count indictments in connection with the killing of Williamson, whose burned body was found Sept. 17 by campers near Senator Highway adjacent to Spruce Mountain Road.

Yavapai County Defender Dean Trebesch said that all four had had previous contact with his office, making it necessary to hire contract attorneys who are, in his words, "death-qualified" under Arizona Bar Association rules.

"There are ABA standards which dictate that, when a case appears it is likely to be a capital case, and from my assessment this appears to be one, I am duty-bound to get a capital-case defense team on board immediately," said Trebesch.

"That decision (to pursue the death penalty) has not been made yet," said Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane.

But part of the reason for hiring a defense team so early, Trebesch said, is that the defense needs to be able to present mitigating evidence that might take the case out of death-penalty territory before the trial begins.

Each capital-case defendant is entitled to a lead attorney and a co-counsel, he added.

Because special qualifications are required and because his office has a conflict of interest, Trebesch said he had to look outside of Yavapai County for representation. Only one lawyer, David Shapiro, is local, he said, with the others coming from Phoenix.

Two of the attorneys' contracts are on the Board of Supervisors agenda for approval Monday. Yavapai County specifies a pay rate of $100 an hour for lead counsel and $90 an hour for second-chair.

That's the lowest rate paid by any county in Arizona, said Trebesch. "Part of the difficulty is finding qualified, competent attorneys because every other county pays more" - $125 an hour or better, he said.

Each of the four defendants faces two first-degree murder charges, two counts of conspiracy, kidnapping, a weapons charge, obstruction and evidence tampering.

Trebesch said he is making certain that all the rules are followed to the letter.

"The last thing I want to see happen is to see this case come back for another trial needlessly if I didn't have the proper personnel working on this case at the earliest possible moment," he said.

Related Stories:
• Update: Murder victim had outstanding arrest warrant
• Police make 2 more arrests in burned body case
• Sheriff's Office makes arrests in burned body homicide case

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2012
Article comment by: L. Heyman

According to the public access website, the state filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty on 3/16 for Juan and Robbie only.

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Article comment by: CRAZY NESS

so what happened to these four anyways?

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Article comment by: CRAZY NESS

So what ended up happeningwith these four anyways?

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Article comment by: The Plot Thickens...

Soul mate? Wasnt his woman arrested with him?

Posted: Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Article comment by: Brittany Beene

Johnny Sanchez,
May have had his own personal issues but who doesn't. He was my soul mate, the father of our beautiful daughter and my soul mate. He is a loving caring person and cared a lot about his family. He has a way of lighting up a room when he enters it. I dont care what the verdict ends up being i love you baby and i know we will make it through this. Your parents love you and me and the babies are waiting for you...

Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Article comment by: CeeCee DiGregorio

It is typical for those close to the perps to find it difficult to believe that their loved ones would commit these types of crimes. Although we don't know who did what and why, it is ridiculous to believe that after two and a half months, the investigators would not have sorted this out and released any of them if they were not involved. First degree means they plotted this crime which also means the county has evidence that it was planned. Why is it so unbelievable that someone who two years ago committed an armed robbery would commit murder? Because he doesn't show that side of his personality to you? Have you heard the idiom" a wolf in sheep's clothing"? ...

Posted: Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Article comment by: Nick S

There's no way Robbie could of done this, he's innocent.

Posted: Friday, December 02, 2011
Article comment by: anna harris

I have known robbie for 10 years. He was my neighbor. My bestfriend. Pretty much my brother. Robbie was never like that. He was always so protective and cared about other people more than himself.. yah he may have been mad about what happened before , but I wrote him a lot while he was in prison and he never said anything about getting revenge with cliff, and he told me everything. Just like cliff , robbie will never get to do anything or go to college either. No one knows what really happened but them. I don't think robbie was actually the one that did anything. Just not in him to do that...

Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Article comment by: rose blendowski

well robbie and cliff r both good people! ya wat happened is crazy! and shouldnt have happened! cliff shouldnt have had that happen to him at all! but just for the record... robbie is innocent until proven guilty! dont jump to conclusions! stop talkin crap! no matter wat any of u say robbie is a good person! all u see is his record! but if u got to know him then heard this u wouldnt believe he was involved! hes not a monster! and they r equally missed!

Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Article comment by: Get A Life Seriously

You know. I dont care what any of you have to say. grammer blah blah blah. Whatever. My beliefs are no one has the right to take a life except god! So maybe people should stop trying to play god! Okay! Yea these guys did something stupid and took a life... but in return we are going to do the same crime they committed and take there lifes! Dont you think they will suffer more in prison just knowing how many people they have hurt! You people disgust me! As for robbie! Homie you where a friend then... and im stickin through still. Still waiting on that letter to get here! Hope you write me back!

Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Article comment by: Ree Ryan

I see shira law is alive and well in the USA

An eye for an eye

Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Article comment by: Truth Be Told

@ Tony D. You talk about dogs treated better than inmates and it is misleading to the general public so I will help clarify your extremely incorrect and biased observation.

Do most dogs... have three meals/day? A home? Dog companions? Phones to call their dog friends & family? Writing implements to write letters in dog language? Staff that learns dog language to speak to the dogs? Opportunities to buy their own dog treats and grooming/hygiene products? Worker Dog programs to get 2-for-1 days off their sentence at the pound? Special homes for dogs with special needs (dirty or dangerous dogs)? Dog counselors? Dog medication and vet staff? Emergency notifications when a dog's family member dies and permission to attend their funeral? New dog clothes every three days? Dog thermals during the winter?

The answer is no. Please, stop and think before posting a ridiculous opinion based on an experience that obviously did not do you a lick of good.

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011
Article comment by: No Name

Okay one kid lost his life early do we really need to kill 4 more young people? Cliffs family is going through hell because their little boy died, we do not need to cause all the other families hell. They will learn their lesson in prison. Death is NOT the answer.

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2011
Article comment by: Kiki M

I would just like to say on Cliff's behalf that those four people sure as hell deserve to die asap. I am not going at this with an eye for an eye aspect, but a call and cry for help...those people should have thought what they would feel like if they were killed at 19 loosing their life long dreams and hopes for a new future family of their own. Cliff didn't even go to college yet....he deserves to have his life back. As far as the others that so brutally left him to burn on the side of a distant road....shall burn in hell for eternity until forgiven by the heavens......he lost something that dose not come easy...a human life in the USA. For religion...Cliff is safe in heaven and forever has the hearts of everyone i know. Thank you for your time....and please..if you have nothing nice to say about Cliff....don't you dare say it. Rest In Peace darling. -Kiki

Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Article comment by: doesnt matter to any of you

Cliff was not all like you maade him out to be

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: An Eye For An Eye

Tony D--Fortunatly, I have never had to do any of what your speaking of I guess maybe because I have obeyed the laws. Hmmmm and I guess most of the things I see and hear are from TV shows that dont show or tell the real truth. But Sounds like you didn't like your time in the pokey so maybe you will or have changed your ways, if so maybe justice might be served perhaps. An eye for an eye.

Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011
Article comment by: Don't understand

It makes no sense that four people killed one young man. I understand people covering up the crime or being involved in some way, but the murder must have been committed by one person.
To the friends of any of these people, please stay in school. Learn, and enjoy your young lives. The spelling, grammar, and sentence structure of most of the posts: atrocious.

Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011
Article comment by: Tony D

@ An eye for an eye -- Try spending a few weeks sleeping on the floor of the county jail, and then back to us about "warmth and coolness" and the neglect and abuse that pass for "medical care." Spend a few DAYS on a maximum security yard, then you can write about the good food, the cable TV and all the other cushy accomodations that all those bad people have to look forward to. If you treated your own dog the way human beings are treated in this country's jails and prisons, you'd be locked up, too. THEN you could write about it and actually know what you're talking about.

Posted: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

Oh, look! Prescott has its very own lynch mob! Just like the president, sitting in your comfy chairs and calling down death on other human beings. How special. And I'll bet you all went to church this morning, too.

Posted: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Article comment by: Oh Wow Grow up All of you!

Like seriously people! Who cares if people are posting and not putting there names ... I dont blame them with all this drama this article has brought. My name isnt going up because its none of any of your damn business! As for those posting about what they know.... You people are right... You guys need to go to the police and tell them what you know.. Not post it here! We dont know if its legit or even the truth... I just wish people would stop bickering.... End of story.. This did happen. The case is not over yet though... and we have no verdict... So why dont we all keep to ourselfs about thinking hes innocent or not untill they jury reaches a final descion. The courts will take care of this! Nothing is being left out and no one is getting blamed for something they didnt do. These people will get what they deserve.. although I do hope to god they dont get the death penalty because no one deserves to take a life except god! And that is a fact! I dont care what any of you have to say about it! What they did is wrong but wouldnt you rather watch them rott in prison miserable and alone the rest of there life then to be put to peace? Think about it. Im out.

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Article comment by: An Eye for An Eye

An eye for an eye, This country and people need to get a grip on reality and quit making excuses for sorriness. These people need to be dealt the same hand they dealt. We need to do this to all criminals and I just best the crime would drop. I know people that work regular jobs every day and dont get the warmth and coolness, cable, food, gyms, and medical care that the criminals get today. It is a sad situation

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Article comment by: jennifer wolfe

we love johnny(: good luck bro!
jenn katie sammy mom

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Article comment by: A E Newman

@George Procopi, "one of the most caring people I knew" and "he was only two weeks out of prison". Now that's confusing. Let me guess, he went to prison for helping the homeless.

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Article comment by: Dont Need The Drama

The motive behind all this is the fact that robbie thinks that this young boy who is now dead was the one who ratted him out for a crime they both commited with a couple others a couple years back involving robbery. Robbie got prison time and Cliff got probation. Regardless of what he did or didnt say to the police murder is never the answer. He was so upset he ended up in prison because of cliff... But now he is going to be sent to prison for nearly his whole life... Possibly get a death penalty and die himself... all because he wanted revenge.. If he would of just got out of prison and moved on with his life this would never be happening to him now... But look where he is at now... I only know robbies role in this whole murder... as for the others if they simply did this because they are "homies" Of robbies they are complete .. Because look at there future now.. They have none.. All over revenge and bitterness.... Pathetic... Nothing anyone could do is worth them being killed over! So I hope robbie is happy.. He got his revenge and is possibly facing death himself... and If he doesnt get the death penalty im sure he will at the very least get a life sentence and spend 25 years out of the probably 50 to 70 years he has left on this life in prison!

Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Article comment by: christina scheffer

First of yeah thats my name right there my REAL name. Because I dont have anything to hide or anything im ashamed to say. Clifford Lee Williamson was one of my very very very close bestfriends that I have known for a very long time. I loved and still do love him with all my heart he is an amzing person reguardless of the mistakes he made were HUMAN thats what we do! ... If that was your son, brother, friend, lover, nephew, cousin ect. would you being complaining about our tax money paying to get rid of such trifling people that took their life? No didnt think so.

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