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Mesa v. Granville

Supreme Court of Arizona

December 21, 2016

Jesse Mesa, Petitioner,
v.
Hon. Warren J. Granville, Judge of the superior Court of the State of Arizona, in and for the County of Maricopa, Respondent Judge, State of Arizona, Real Party in Interest.

         Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable Warren J. Granville, Judge No. CR2015-001779 AFFIRMED

         Order of the Court of Appeals, Division One Filed Jan. 6, 2016

          Eric W. Kessler (argued), Sandra Hamilton, Mesa, Attorneys for Jesse Mesa

          William G. Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, Karen Kemper (argued), Deputy County Attorney, Phoenix, Attorneys for State of Arizona

          Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Amy Kalman (argued), Mikel Steinfeld, Deputy Public Defenders, Phoenix, and Amy P. Knight, Kuykendall & Associates, Tucson, Attorneys for Amici Curiae Maricopa County Public Defender's Office and Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

          Natman Schaye, Arizona Capital Representation Project, Tucson, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Arizona Capital Representation Project

          CHIEF JUSTICE BALES authored the opinion of the Court, in which VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER and JUSTICES BRUTINEL, TIMMER and BOLICK joined.

          OPINION

          BALES, CHIEF JUSTICE

         ¶1 Under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 15.1(i)(1), the state, within sixty days of arraignment, "shall provide to the defendant notice of whether [it] intends to seek the death penalty." Here, the State did not file such a notice after Jesse Mesa was arraigned; instead, after discovering new evidence, it obtained a second indictment adding two charges, dismissed the first case, and filed a death notice in the second case. We hold that when the state complies with Rule 16.6 in dismissing a prosecution and obtains a new indictment, the time limits for filing a notice under Rule 15.1(i)(1) start anew, absent bad faith by the state or prejudice to the defendant. We further hold that the untimely filing of a death notice does not itself invalidate the notice but may result in sanctions, including an order striking the notice, under Rule 15.7.

         I.

         ¶2 A grand jury indicted Mesa in May 2014 for first degree murder and other charges (the "2014 charges") related to the shooting of a clerk in a Phoenix smoke shop. Mesa was arraigned the same month. The State did not file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty, and trial was set for June 2015.

         ¶3 Lorenzo Garcia was also indicted in May 2014 for charges related to the same crime. In October 2014, Garcia engaged in a "free talk" and told prosecutors that he and Mesa had discussed robbing the smoke shop at gunpoint. Garcia said that a girl named Erica "Vibe" Vasquez had waited outside as a "lookout." Garcia also stated that Mesa had shot the clerk in the face and that Mesa later laughed while telling others the clerk had talked about his children before he was killed.

         ¶4 After the free talk, the State investigated the reliability of Garcia's information, including conducting a polygraph test on Garcia in December 2014. Garcia eventually entered into a plea agreement. In a March 2015 interview, Vasquez told investigators that Mesa had said he had shot the clerk in the head. She also said that Mesa bragged about the shooting and recounted the clerk mentioning his children while begging Mesa not to shoot him.

         ¶5 Based on the information obtained from Garcia and Vasquez, the State obtained a new indictment of Mesa in April 2015. The new indictment alleged the same charges as the first indictment but added charges of first degree burglary and conspiracy to commit first degree murder (the "2015 charges"). Mesa was arraigned in May ...


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