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Ken Peasley, disbarred prosecutor, dead at 64

Former Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Peasley, long one of the most controversial figures in the Pima County justice system, has died at age 64.

Peasley "passed away peacefully at home" about 9 p.m. Wednesday, "battling an aggressive cancer," according to an internal Pima County Sheriff's Department memo.

Peasley, who had been struggling with health issues for years, was disbarred in 2004 for allowing a Tucson police detective, Joe Godoy, to lie while testifying in two capital murder trials.

"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 case stemmed from the trials of Andre Minnitt and Christopher McCrimmon in a 1992 triple slaying at the now-defunct El Grande Market, near South Park Avenue and East 36th Street.

A state Disciplinary Commission found that Peasley elicited false testimony in the 1993 trial and again in a 1997 retrial.

Recently, a federal judge ruled that a third El Grande defendant, Martin Soto-Fong, could ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether he should get a new trial because of Godoy's perjured testimony.

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Soto-Fong's three death sentences eventually were overturned because he was 17 at the time of the offenses. He remains in prison with life sentences.

Tucson defense attorney Rick Lougee, who vigorously defended Soto-Fong for years, had no comment on Peasley's death, according to a woman answering Lougee's office phone.

The Arizona Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Andre Minnitt, 22 at the time of the slayings, and dismissed the charges against him because of Peasley’s actions.

Christopher McCrimmon, who was 20 at the time of the slayings, was acquitted at a second trial in the case.

Minnitt and McCrimmon are serving sentences for another armed robbery and are scheduled for release in 2028 and 2022, respectively.

A Tucson Police Department investigation cleared Godoy, but he left the force.

Up to his disbarment, Peasley was a superstar in the Pima County Attorney's Office. Even after the State Bar of Arizona issued an investigation into the El Grande case, County Attorney Barbara LaWall promoted Peasley to Chief Criminal Deputy.

Peasley was the subject of a 2005 New Yorker article, "Killer Instincts," that included praise as well as criticisms for his legal prowess. Peasley himself bragged about having sent more men to death row in Arizona than any other prosecutor.

After his admission to the bar in 1974, Peasley prosecuted nearly 250 felony cases, including 140 homicides. He was the prosecutor in 60 death-penalty cases.

Peasley retired in 2003 after the Disciplinary Commission said he should be disbarred.

After his disbarment, Peasley worked as a paralegal.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, the Sheriff's Department said.

A.J. Flick is an experienced criminal justice reporter, author of a book to be published next year on notorious Arizona crimes and a member of the steering committee for the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty.

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3 comments on this story

Sep 13, 2011, 9:59 am
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you can contact me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)!

Sep 13, 2011, 9:56 am
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And furthermore,  when Andy Siverman over there at the UofA law school,  asked this writer if I felt that Peasley,  “recieved his(Peasley’s) Just Desserts”? This writer angrily replied,  “NO”!

This would lead many to ask?  Is this person known as Gregory Alan Bottoni,  Angry,  and bitter?  Peasley put himself “above the law” in respect to the oath he took upon becoming a Pima County Deputy Prosecutor,  which in part states,  “...a prosecutor’s duty is to seek justice,  and seek justice fairly…” 

The blatant mis-use of State Statute 13-303 by Peasley,  led to the freedom for one John I. Singer, the “shooter”, in the case!  Neely, LaWall, Unklsebay,  Janes,  and Steve Bunting(TPD, ret.) engaged in the most utterly despicable behavior that resulted in a farce and mockery of justice to take place in this case he(Peasley) wrongfully,  and maliciously brought against myself,  and Alan Lee Gluth!

For a prosecutor to engage in criminal behavior such as happened in this case,  he had to know that he would not be prosecuted for any wrong doings on his (Peasley’s) part! The conspiracy was set!  They set out to wrongfully execute innocent person’s,  and they were pushed back!  They LOST!  I WON!  I stood up to Peasley’s threats of “Death penalty”,  and facing “25 to Life” threats!  He(Peasley)  ended up a scrub on the second team as a paralegal!LOL!  I WON! Burn in Hell Peasley!

Sep 12, 2011, 1:11 pm
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Rot in Hell Peasley!  You,  and those corrupt others down there at the PCAO, are surely marked for hell! 
Liars,  cheaters,  and most likely woman beaters,  all of you!
Exonerate Gregory Alan Bottoni,  for the wrongful,  and malicious prosecution by Kenneth Jack Peasley,  and his cadre of corrupt cronies for the March 03,1980 murder that John I Singer commited!

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