Peoria woman previously accused of killing her cousin back in jail for third time
PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Officers arrested a Peoria woman previously accused of killing her cousin, but this time for domestic violence charges on Tuesday. Police say this is the third time 29-year-old Brianna Zerth has been arrested in five months. Zerth was booked for criminal damage and disorderly conduct.
On May 4, Zerth was in jail for allegedly killing her cousin, Peter McKenna Jr., with a hammer. However, she was later released when the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office sent the case back to Peoria police citing lack of sufficient evidence against Zerth.
Zerth was free to go. Then, in June, she was arrested and charged with an attempt to commit aggravated assault after reportedly trying to run her boyfriend over with a car. She was allegedly under the influence during the incident, but a judge granted supervised release.
Arizona’s Family asked Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell how rare cases like Zerth’s are. “It does happen and it’s something I’ve been looking at since I’ve taken office, about the appropiateness of bail that’s being set in this county. I’m concerned about people who do commit crimes. I am concered about people who behave dangerously and continue to commit crimes. I’m speaking generically not to this case in particular.”
Mckenna’s family says they feel failed by the justice system. “My son was brutally murdered, brutally murdered,” said Peter McKenna Sr. “My main concern, how does she keep getting away with this?”
A defense attorney told Arizona’s Family that even though Zerth was the main suspect in a murder investigation, it shouldn’t determine how judges treat her for other crimes, citing she is “innocent until proven guilty.”
McKenna says he will patiently wait for the murder investigation to finish but wants justice for his son. “She had been charged with second degree, I want first degree, and I want the death penalty,” he said.
Copyright 2022 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.