Man gets 14 years in cartel beheading in Arizona

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Crisantos Moroyoqui-Yocupicio By Jennifer Thomas Crisantos Moroyoqui-Yocupicio By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for his murder conviction in a 2010 beheading of a man in Arizona who police say had stolen drugs from a Mexican drug cartel.
 
Crisantos Moroyoqui-Yocupicio had pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy at an apartment in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.
 
He faced a punishment ranging from 10 to 16 years in prison. Prosecutors were seeking the maximum penalty.
 
Police believe the killing was intended to send a message that anyone who betrays the traffickers will get the same treatment.
 
The case has been cited as an extreme example of Mexican cartel violence spilling over the border.

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From Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery:

Crisantos Moroyoqui-Yocupicio Sentenced for Chandler Homicide and Beheading

PHOENIX, AZ (May 8, 2013) – Crisantos Moroyoqui-Yocupicio (D.O.B. 10/27/1993) has been ordered to serve a term of 14 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for the 2010 stabbing death of Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy, whose decapitated body was found in a Chandler apartment.  Moroyoqui-Yocupicio previously pled no contest to Second Degree Murder, claiming to have been too intoxicated to remember details of the crime.  Under terms of the sentence imposed today by the Honorable Joseph Kreamer, Moroyoqui-Yocupicio will receive credit for 940 days of time served and will not be eligible for early release.

Investigation by fellow law enforcement agencies revealed information indicating the murder was committed in retaliation for stealing drugs from a transnational criminal organization.  The victim was apparently murdered at the direction of members of that organization.

“This was not only a shockingly brutal crime but a disturbing example of the type of violence commonly associated with drug cartels and a chilling reminder of the threat these criminal organizations pose to public safety in our community,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.  “Today’s sentence underscores the commitment of my office to hold violent criminals accountable regardless of their motivation or efforts to evade responsibility for their actions,” he added.

On the morning of October 10, 2010, Chandler police responded to the scene of a homicide at an apartment on West Fairview Street.  The decapitated body of Martin Alejandro Cota-Monroy was discovered on the floor in a large pool of blood with multiple stab wounds.  A witness told police he had seen the defendant drinking with the victim around 4:30 a.m. on the apartment patio with several other males.  Two other witnesses who were present at the apartment also reported seeing the defendant and victim around the same time.  These witnesses later went to bed.  They awoke at 5:30 a.m. and found the victim’s body on the living room floor and immediately called police.  The first witness also returned to the apartment at around the same time and later reported seeing three males rapidly leaving the apartment in a burgundy Ford S.U.V.

Shortly after police arrived, they discovered the defendant hiding behind a parked van near the crime scene without his shoes.  He stated he had been dropped off at the location by his sister after spending the previous evening at her house in Queen Creek, a statement that later proved to be false.  He told the officers he lived in an apartment near the crime scene and was escorted there by police.  They were later alerted to a pair of blood stained boots outside the apartment by one of the defendant’s roommates who recognized the boots as belonging to the defendant.  Officers were then allowed into the apartment where they found the defendant sleeping, still wearing the same jeans he had been wearing when contacted by the responding officer.

Two separate sets of bloody footprints found in the apartment indicated that at least two people participated in the attack.  The medical examiner also subsequently opined that more than one attacker was involved based on the victim’s injuries.  Blood spatter analysis of the patterning on the defendant’s boots and clothing indicated that he was likely standing at or near the front of the victim at the time of the killing.  Additional forensic evidence pointed to the likelihood that the victim had been kneeling or on all fours during the fatal attack.  Incision wounds on the victim’s arms and at least one of his hands indicated that the victim had engaged in a substantial struggle with his attackers before succumbing.  The medical examiner concluded the victim bled to death from multiple stab wounds and that the decapitation occurred post mortem.

On October 18, 2010, the Grand Jurors of Maricopa County indicted Moroyoqui-Yocupicio on one count of Second Degree Murder, a class 1 dangerous felony.  He agreed to plead no contest to the charge on March 4, 2013.