Teens to be charged as adults in DOC officer's murder

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Teens charged as adults
azfamily.com

BUCKEYE -- The following is a press release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that Buckeye residents Felix Vasquez, 16 (DOB 4/16/92), and Benjamin Cannon, 15 (DOB 12/24/92), have been accused in a criminal indictment of taking the life of 28-year-old Arizona Department of Corrections Officer Bradley Jay Gerrard.

The County Attorney's office is prosecuting the teens as adults.

Officer Gerrard was found with a gunshot wound to the chest on October 19, 2008, in a roadway median near his home in Buckeye. He had worked as a corrections officer at the Lewis prison complex.

The October 30, 2008 indictment contains the following charges for both defendants:

- First Degree Murder, a class one dangerous felony;

- Armed Robbery, a class two dangerous felony;

- Theft of Means of Transportation, a class three dangerous felony.

- Arson, a class four felony

According to a Buckeye Police probable cause statement, on October 18, 2008, at about 11:30 p.m., the defendants are accused of planning a carjacking to get transportation to a party in Goodyear.

One of the men laid down in the roadway while the other man hid. The probable cause statement goes on to say when Officer Gerrard stopped his car and exited to see if the man in the roadway needed help, the man in hiding approached him and shot him with a shotgun.

The suspects then took the car keys from Officer Gerard's pocket and drove the vehicle to Goodyear.

A passerby discovered the body shortly after midnight. The stolen vehicle was found in a desert area where it had been set on fire.

A canine tracking team from the Department of Corrections found where the suspects had walked into a nearby community.

Buckeye Police arrested then suspects on October 23, 2008. Deputy County Attorney Kristen Hoffmeyer is prosecuting the case.

Thomas stated, "Buckeye Police and the Department of Corrections deserve our thanks for the quick capture of the suspects. This office will work to make sure the victim's family receives justice."< /p>

Buckeye Police Chief Mark Mann stated, "The Buckeye Police Department extends our ongoing thoughts and sympathies Officer Gerrard's family, friends and colleagues as the prosecution of this case continues. The case was turned over to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, and we have total confidence that the individuals responsible will be held accountable for this senseless crime."