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 Robert Charles Cruz, claiming that he hired the three men to kill Redmond after Redmond had refused to sell him his lucrative printing business. In exchange for his testimony, Merrill received immunity from prosecution and conjugal visits with his wife. Cruz was tried together 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 it for a new trial, ruling that because he was tried together with McCall, the jury had been prejudiced by testimony regarding Cruz’s alleged mafia connections. Two 1987 trials resulted in hung juries. 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.
– Alexandra Gross