Two suspects In 2016 Surprise double homicide await trial

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Montez Wright III, 23 (left) and Tichina Shephard, 25 (right) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Montez Wright III, 23 (left) and Tichina Shephard, 25 (right) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Tichina Shephard, 25 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Tichina Shephard, 25 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Montez Wright III, 23 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Montez Wright III, 23 (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Andrew Lauro (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Andrew Lauro (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Two women found dead inside Surprise home (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Two women found dead inside Surprise home (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

by Erin Dragoo, ASU

PHOENIX -- During Monday’s pre-trial conference for the second suspect in the 2016 fatal shootings of two elderly women in Surprise, a third suspect in the case was seated among the defendants awaiting trial.

The suspect was 25-year-old Tichina Shephard.

Shephard, who had previously been unnamed, was allegedly in the car with the two shooters the day of the incident.

[RELATED: 2 women found dead in Surprise home]

Another suspect, Montez Wright III, sat behind her in the courtroom.

The two will be tried together.

Five attorneys gathered around the judge -- one representing the state, one representing each of the two defendants, and one for each of the victims’ family.

[RELATED: 2 arrests made in double homicide at Surprise retirement community]

Wanting to keep the case private, the courtroom had static playing on the speakers as the six of them spoke about the case.

After about five minutes, the attorneys returned to their places in the courtroom.

A motion was made to move the trial date to Oct. 8.

[RELATED: Double murder suspects worked as landscapers in victims' Surprise neighborhood]

Andrew Lauro, 26, confessed to his role in the double homicide of the two women in September 2017.

He was sentenced to life in prison.

Statements made by Lauro indicate that he was picked up by Wright and an unknown female subject.

The trio drove around the Sun City Grand Retirement Community and eventually parked in front of a home with an open garage door.

[RELATED: Man pleads guilty in killings of women at Phoenix-area home]

The home belonged to 70-year-old Barbara Leslie, who had a friend visiting from New Mexico, Ruth Schwed, 75.

As the two men exited the vehicle and began walking toward the home, it is Lauro’s claim that Wright pulled out a handgun.

Upon entry of the home, Lauro said that he saw Montez shoot and kill the two women inside.

Lauro left the scene on foot and was later picked up in a vehicle that belonged to one of the victims.

The men then met back up with Shephard.

A phone call to police from a worried relative of one of the victims after days of silence is what tipped police off to the crime.

At the crime scene, police recovered a cell phone that belonged to Lauro.

Lauro’s arrest led to the capture of Wright, who was found in Oakland County, Michigan and was extradited back to Arizona.

Shephard was not arrested initially, as investigators were still looking into her involvement.

However, according to Maricopa County arrest records, she was arrested over a year later, at approximately 9 p.m. on July 20, 2017.

The charges at that time were fraudulent schemes, computer tempering for fraud purposes, ID theft, and two counts of credit card theft.

Her arraignment was held eight days later. Her bond was set at $500,000.

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