Woman not notified after husband's killer nearly escapes from jailPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - It was a high profile murder here in the Valley when an executive was abused and killed, but years later, the victim's wife says she was forced to relive the nightmare all over again.
"You can do everything right and then someone decides that they are going to commit murder, comes in and tears your life apart," Shelly Corzo said.
Corzo's life was torn apart in January of 2004.
Her husband, Pedro, an executive at Del Monte Foods was visiting some remote farms around Arizona when he was ambushed and killed.
The shooting was part of a bizarre odyssey in which Joshua Aston, then 16, along with his younger brother and another man left their homes in Missouri on a cross country killing rampage. Reportedly the killings were hate crimes.
"It's not something that you think could happen," Shelly said.
The two men convicted of shooting Pedro Corzo were both sentenced to life in prison and Pedro's widow Shelly tried her best to move forward.
At the time of the murder, she was pregnant with their second child.
"I've worked so hard to make sure my kids have a normal life," Shelly said.
But Shelly says her world was turned upside down again when she got a phone call several weeks ago.
A friend had read online that Joshua Aston, one of the men who murdered her husband, had escaped.
"I can't describe the fear, panic, the emotions that I felt," she said.
Frantic, Shelly started making phone calls. She would later find out that Aston tried to escape from the state prison complex in Tucson, but he never made it to the prison's outer perimeter.
Cops looked for him for five hours.
"The law requires immediately upon escape the prison to contact victim and the prosecutor," said victim's advocate Mischa Hepner.
According to the Arizona Constitution, a victim is to be informed, upon request, when the accused or convicted person is released from custody or has escaped.
Remember though in this case Aston never actually made it out.
"One of their contentions is that he never escaped, they just didn't know where he was for five hours," Hepner said. "Regardless upon his escape noticing he was gone they should have notified my client."
Hepner said all of this sheds light on a much bigger problem. Even if Aston had escaped Shelly would not have been notified because the Department of Corrections did not have her contact information.
"I know I filled out those forms and sent them in," she said.
Trouble is, the forms never made it from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to the Department of Corrections.
"Something that is a mistake to them is a life changing experience to us," Shelly said.
Shelly has found some comfort in knowing that since his attempted escape, Aston, now 22, was transferred to Eyman Prison Complex in Florence where he will spend the next 10-20 years in the maximum security unit.
The head of the Department of Corrections, Charles Ryan, did have a meeting this week with Shelly to talk about notification policies and how information is shared between agencies.
A statement sent to 3 On Your Side from Ryan said:
"The Arizona Department of Corrections has no record of Shelly Corzo's notification request. The Attorney General's Office and the Board of Executive Clemency also have no record of Ms. Corzo's request.
There was no notification requirement in this case because the staff at the Tucson Prison complex prevented an escape. The two inmates have been transferred to the maximum security unit in Florence.
The Department's Victim Services unit works tirelessly to advocate for victims and keep them informed of important events. After contacting Ms. Corzo, we have her information on file and she will receive notifications in the future, which she has now requested."
To confirm that they have your information so that you can be notified of post-conviction release or escape visit or call 602-542-1853 or 1-866-787-7233.
To reach Mischa Hepner at the Arizona Voice for Crime Victims visit .
Here are the agencies and the contact info that victims in Maricopa County would need to contact:
Arizona Department of Corrections, Victim Services
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Victim Services
Executive Board of Clemency
Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Victim Services
Victims should also contact the probation department or the jail if applicable in their case, as well as outside prosecuting agencies if they live outside of Maricopa County.