Prosecutors seeking death penalty in two Valley murders

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The following is a news release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that his office has filed notices of intent to seek the death penalty in two murder cases.

In May of 2009 Phoenix Police investigated a pair of armed robberies at two Subway Stores. According to the probable cause statement filed by police, officers found the get-away vehicle but the driver sped off. Officers then traced the vehicle to its owner and found the man dead at his home. 74-year-old Tony Ortega had been shot and beaten with a hatchet. Video surveillance at the victim's trailer park led officers to Jock Coker (DOB 6/12/90). According to police, Coker fit the description of the suspect in the two robberies. He was arrested by Phoenix Police and later indicted on First Degree Murder and Robbery charges. On August 21 the County Attorney's Office filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty because the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner and because the defendant allegedly committed two armed robberies following the murder.

In October 2003 Mesa Police went to check the welfare of 82-year-old Stewart Metcalf who was partially blind and uses a motorized wheelchair. Police found the victim's body on the floor of his home covered in blood. His ankles had been duct taped together. Physical evidence preserved from the scene eventually led Mesa Police to Matthew Tomlinson (DOB 2/11/75) and in 2009 he was arrested and later indicted on Murder and Burglary charges. On August 27 the County Attorney's Office filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty because of his criminal history and because the murder was committed an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner.

Deputy County Attorney Michael Gingold is prosecuting both cases. The decision to seek the death penalty in both cases was made after the County Attorney's Capital Review Committee, made up of veteran prosecutors, carefully reviewed the evidence and made recommendations to the County Attorney who then authorized notices of intent to seek the death penalty in both matters.

Thomas stated, "Both victims were elderly and died especially violent deaths. These murders clearly demonstrate why we have the death penalty in Arizona and why it needs to be carried out."