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Robert Cruz

Other Arizona Cases
On December 31, 1980, three armed men forced their way into the home of Patrick Redmond in Tempe, Arizona.

They tied up Redmond, his wife, and his mother-in-law and shot each one in the head; only Redmond’s wife survived.

Based on information obtained from Arnold Merrill, a convicted burglar who was in prison at the time, police arrested 33-year-old Robert Charles Cruz and accused him of hiring the three men to kill Redmond because Redmond had refused to sell his lucrative printing business to Cruz.

In exchange for his testimony, Merrill received immunity from prosecution and conjugal visits with his wife.

Cruz went to trial in Maricopa County Superior Court with Ed McCall, one of the gunmen, despite his defense attorney’s efforts to sever the two cases. On December 10, 1981, a jury found Cruz guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, armed robbery, and kidnapping, among other crimes. On January 11, 1982, Cruz was sentenced to death for two counts of first-degree murder, as well as several hundred years in prison for the lesser offenses.

On October 6, 1983, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial, ruling that because Cruz was tried together with McCall, the jury had been prejudiced by testimony regarding Cruz’s alleged mafia connections.

Cruz went on trial twice in 1987, but in both cases mistrials were declared when the juries were unable to reach unanimous verdicts.

At his fourth trial in 1988, Cruz was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death a second time.

On July 29, 1993, the Arizona Supreme Court held that Cruz’s equal protection rights were violated during his fourth trial, because during jury selection, the prosecution excluded three Hispanic jurors from the panel based on their ethnicity.

Before his fifth trial, a special prosecutor who was hired to try the case was accused of trying to bribe two inmate witnesses to testify against Cruz. On June 1, 1995, a jury acquitted Cruz; jurors later said that they didn’t believe Merrill, the prosecution’s key witness.

In November 1997, Cruz disappeared not long after his cousin, Chicago organized crime hit man Harry Aleman, was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison. Cruz was last seen hanging Christmas tree lights on his suburban Chicago home. His body was found buried in an unincorporated area of DuPage County in March 2007.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Attempted Murder, Robbery, Kidnapping
Reported Crime Date:1980
Age at the date of reported crime:33
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No