PHOENIX -- A jury has convicted Joseluis Marquez, 22, of first-degree murder in the 2010 dragging death of Arizona State University student Kyleigh Sousa.
The verdict was announced Monday morning in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Sousa, 21, was dragged to death in May 2010 when Marquez grabbed her purse from inside a car and drove off with Sousa still tangled up in the purse's strap.
“While nothing can heal the deep wound this crime has caused Kyleigh’s family, today’s verdict at least provides a measure of justice for the senseless taking of her innocent life,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I commend the jury for their service to our community in appropriately holding this defendant accountable for his criminal actions,” he added.
Karen Montenegro, mother of murder victim Kyleigh Sousa, holds up her daughter's ASU shirt outside of court moments after a jury found Joseluis Marquez guilty of first-degree murder in 2010 dragging death and robbery of Sousa.
At around 2 a.m. on May 26, 2010, Sousa and a friend were walking to the International House of Pancakes restaurant in the area of Apache Boulevard and Mill Avenue near the ASU Tempe campus. A car approached her and several of the occupants engaged her in conversation. As she stood by the driver’s side door, the driver of the vehicle suddenly grabbed her purse and began driving away. Sousa's arm was caught in the purse strap and she was pulled to the ground and dragged, sustaining severe injuries including blunt force trauma to her head, which caused her death.
A witness who was in the car later contacted Tempe police and identified Marquez as the driver and provided additional information that allowed investigators to identify the other occupants in the vehicle at the time of the incident. Marquez was arrested on Dec. 7, 2010, and subsequently indicted by a grand jury on one count of first-degree felony murder and one count of robbery. The other occupants in the car were not charged.
That witness testified for the prosecution during the trial.
Under Arizona’s Felony Murder statute, Marquez faces 25 years to life in prison for causing the death of an individual while committing or fleeing a felony offense, specifically, robbery.
The law was amended on Aug. 2, 2012, to eliminate the possibility of early release. Defendants convicted of crimes that occurred before that date may be eligible for release after serving 25 years in prison.
Marquez is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14.
The trial began on Oct. 4. The jury only deliberated for about an hour before reaching a verdict.