HOLBROOK—The last of the seven defendants in the murder case of Show Low Police Officer Darrin Reed has been sentenced.
Reed was shot and killed by a drug dealer near the Days Inn in Show Low on Nov. 8, 2016. The shooter, Daniel Erickson, was later killed by police, and seven persons involved in the felony drug ring were charged with “felony murder.” Only one actually pleaded guilty to second degree murder — the others entered plea agreements and pleaded guilty to lesser crimes. As set forth below, they received sentences that range from decades in prison to probation.
Navajo County Superior Court Judge Dale Nielson remarked at the final sentencing how heartbreaking it has been to see the tragic ripple effects created by seemingly “small actions” of drug users. The judge mused that his position requires fairness and is one of overview of the varying interests of the parties, but that actions of some of the defendants “deserve a harsh sentence.” In any event, the criminal cases of this community-wide tragedy are now closed.
In October, 2016, individuals from the Valley and from Show Low hatched a plan to organize a meth sales organization on the Mountain—it was believed that meth would sell for more here than in the Valley. They estimated they could sell a “T” (1/16 of an ounce) for $120, making the street value of an ounce to be around $2,000. The supplier’s name was Daniel Erickson, later described by his cohorts as “a monster,” and “a creep.” According to a pre-sentence report filed with the Navajo County Superior Court, Erickson’s “lady” from the Valley, Nanette Roldan, (already on parole for drug crimes) and Roldan’s friend, occasional Show Low resident Lisa Tuetken, put the plan into action.
In October, Tuetken contacted Show Low resident Jason Hill with whom she has a daughter, “N,” then 15. Tuetken gave Erickson Hill’s phone number with Hill’s permission. On October 16, Erickson and Roldan arrived in Show Low with the equivalent of two ounces of meth, then in liquid form, around $4,000 worth. Drug dealers prefer to transport meth as a liquid because drug detection dogs can’t smell it. Once here, Erickson met up with Hill who was accompanied by one Matthew Jacoby and Jacoby’s girlfriend Sariah Gilbreath—two persons with whom Tuetken had tried to organize in a meth selling scheme here earlier in 2016. They all met at the Dollar General across from the Snowy Inn, where Erickson and Roldan had checked into a room.
For the next several weeks, Erickson and local resident Chirstopher Talley would “cook” or dry the liquid meth into powder form in hotel rooms, being careful not to stay too long at any one motel; others would sell it, sometimes in the parking lot of Safeway or Kmart. That’s what they were doing at the Days Inn in Show Low on November 8, 2016, when motel staff there alerted the police to the staff’s suspicions.
Officers responded to the Days Inn and noticed the room there was certainly being occupied, but no one was home. Turns out, Erickson, Hill and “N” were all out looking at guns at Sportsmans Warehouse and The Hub. Motel staff inactivated the room’s key cards and called police again when Erickson, Hill and “N” returned. Finding the door locked, Erickson went to the front desk. Staff stalled him long enough for police to return. Meantime, Hill waited outside the room; and daughter “N,” who had earlier paid for the room and was “very high,” according to witnesses, stayed in their vehicle.
Responding were Show Low Police Chief Joe Shelley, Commander Jeff McNeil and Officer Darrin Reed. Erickson saw McNeil’s cruiser and ran up the stairs of One Eyed Jack’s bar, then ran out the back. To catch him, Shelley and McNeil went one way; Reed another way. Erickson tried to shoot McNeil and Shelly but his gun jammed. He had another gun, and when Reed had him cornered, shot and killed Reed.
In the chaos, Hill and his daughter picked up Erickson, stopping in the left turn lane in the middle of Deuce of Clubs, and the three took off. First to the home of one Maria Lies, a friend of Hill who reportedly was waiting on them for drugs. There, Hill drove away leaving “N,” Lies and Erickson together. Erickson shaved his head and his face, changed clothes and Lies drove them to a cabin in the Lake of The Woods in Pinetop Lakeside. Lies paid for the rental cabin for them. When police discovered their whereabouts, Erickson used “N” as a human shield and hostage, but a little after midnight on the morning of November 9, a DPS sniper shot him dead.
The State of Arizona has what is called a “felony murder” law. It’s controversial. It says that if a murder happens during the commission of certain felonies (the law lists which felonies) all those participating in the underlying felony are on the hook for the murder, even though the participants didn’t actually kill anyone. Accordingly, each of the seven defendants involved in this case were originally charged with homicide, but only one actually pleaded guilty to it.
By way of background, the lead prosecutor in the cases was Lee White of the Navajo County Attorney’s Office. Detective Sergeant Mike Butora of Show Low Police was the lead investigator; defense counsel are named below. Judge Nielson presided over the cases. Officer Reed is survived by his wife Kathy, daughter Cheryl and son Chance and grandchildren.
Hill, 37, was represented at sentencing by Mariclare Hannah, the Navajo County Public Defender. Hill started this tragedy by inviting contact with supplier Erickson to start up the criminal syndicate. He was involved deeply and early, spirited Erickson away from the murder scene, lied repeatedly to the police about where exactly he dropped off Erickson and involved his own minor daughter in drug crimes. She was also recruited to clean Erickson’s room because he didn’t want housekeeping to discover his activities. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder, transporting dangerous drugs for sale, participating in a criminal syndicate and involving a minor in a drug offense. Hill has two prior felony convictions and was on probation when Reed was murdered. He would not sign a testimonial agreement to testify against the others. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Jacoby, 36, was represented by Criss Candelaria. Jacoby with girlfriend Gilbreath met with Erickson and Hill when Erickson first arrived in Show Low, and accepted a portion of the original two ounces of meth. According to the plea agreement, he “continued to transfer methamphetamine for sale up through November 8,” the day Reed was killed. He also used “N,” the underage daughter of Hill and Tuetken to deal drugs and has two prior felony convictions; one for drugs, the other for burglary. Jacoby pleaded guilty to attempted transportation of dangerous drugs for sale, participating in a criminal syndicate and involving a minor in a drug offense. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Both Candelaria and Prosecutor White asked the judge to amend Jacoby’s plea agreement because, in error, it stated that Jacoby signed a testimonial agreement, which he did not.
Talley, 43, was represented by Elizabeth Hale. Court filings say the “Talley was a small fish in a small pond, wanting to be a big fish.” He had met Erickson while vacationing in California; both Talley and his then girlfriend and Erickson and his girlfriend were “swingers,” according to police. Talley’s role in the Show Low operation was to work closely with Erickson in manufacturing and packaging the contraband. On November 8, 2016, the day Reed was killed, Talley was seen in the Days Inn hotel room and was getting ready for a drug deal across the street when Erickson shot Reed. In the commotion, Talley returned to the room there. In the breezeway near the room, police found a black duffel bag with 15 ounces of meth in it; it is believed that either Hill or Erickson had dropped it there once they returned from gun shopping, and prosecutors believe that right after the shooting, Erickson texted Talley to go get it. The street value of the meth was about $30,000. Talley would not sign a testimonial agreement and has one prior felony conviction. He pleaded guilty to possession of dangerous drugs for sale, manufacturing dangerous drugs and participating in a criminal syndicate. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Teutken, 37, was represented by Emery LaBarge. Tuetken is the mother of Hill’s child “N,” gave Erickson’s phone number to Hill and was instrumental in starting up the syndicate. She had tried once before to do that without success, according to a presentence report. After the murder, Teutken kept her there for about five days and the judge, against the protestations of the prosecutor, released her on an “unsecured bond.” After she was released pending trial, she proceeded to go to the Valley and buy an “8-ball,” which is one-eighth of an ounce of meth and got caught with it. She was charged for that on April 7, 2017. She has no prior felonies, signed a testimonial agreement, and began fully cooperating with law enforcement after she was caught with the 8-ball. She pleaded guilty to attempting to possess dangerous drugs and participating in a criminal syndicate. She was sentenced to five years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised probation, but the April, 2017, charges for the 8 ball were dismissed.
Roldan, 50, was represented by Eduardo Coronado. Roldan was Erickson’s ”lady” as he described her in a text and travelled to Show Low with him from the Valley. She was on parole when she was arrested for this case, and was sent back to prison to finish her sentence on the parole case, one of six of her prior felony convictions. Roldan signed a testimonial agreement and lived in Queen Creek. She pleaded guilty to attempted transportation of dangerous drugs and participating in a criminal syndicate. She was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 4 years of supervised probation to follow.
Lies, 34, was represented by Benjamin Brewer. Lies had known “N’s” parents Hill and Tuetken for at least one year before the Reed murder. Her involvement at the beginning of this case was tangental but after the murder, Erickson used her home to shave his head and face, change clothes, and according to her presentence report, Lies gave Erickson ammunition for the high-capacity magazine of his gun. After a search of her home by DPS detectives, she called them back saying that she had found guns and clothing which she claims the detectives overlooked when they searched the first time. She drove Erickson and “N” to the cabin which she rented. But she also led the authorities there. She pleaded guilty to attempted possession for sale of a dangerous drug, assisting a criminal syndicate and attempted hindering prosecution. She has no prior felonies and signed a testimonial agreement. She was sentenced to 5 years of probation.
Gilbreath, 41, was represented by Dirk LeGate. Gilbreath, Jacoby’s girlfriend, has been described as a “minor player,” but along with Hill and Jacoby, was at the first meeting with Erickson in Show Low, after which they all traveled to Scott’s Reservoir to plan. She has no prior felony convictions and signed a testimonial agreement. She was sentenced to 5 years of probation and 32 day in jail, with credit for time served.
Memorable remarks reveal human cost
of the tragedy
The Independent attended each of the seven sentencings in front of Judge Neilson. Some were absolutely heart rending. Each of the defendants said how sorry they were, that they had no idea how something like this could happen. Defense counsel Candelaria said his client (Jacoby) pleaded guilty to what he is guilty of, that he is a user and an addict and shouldn’t be painted with the broad brush of murder, especially when he was at home repairing a neighbor’s dishwasher when Reed was killed.
Chance Reed told the court that no one should believe that using drugs is a victimless crime, and that when he last said goodbye to his dad, he would have “hugged him a little longer” had he known what was coming.
“N,” the juvenile who was held hostage during the stand-off between police and Erickson, attended her father’s sentencing and said that she wished people “would be more open minded” because her dad, Jason Hill, is a good man. She did not attend the sentencing for her mother, Lisa Tuetken.
Commander Jeff McNeil said that he hopes that every day the defendants spend in prison “rips you to the core,” just like the Reed family and the police department have been.
Show Low Police Sergeant Shawn Roby said he had attended each sentencing, (including Erickson’s “sentencing” at the cabin), and said he was struck by how many of the defendants pleaded for mercy so that they could attend to their families. Roby wondered who would be attending to Reed’s family now.
Prosecutor White pinned the entire tragedy on the defendants’ “greed.”
Widow Kathy Reed spoke of the hurt that never goes away and that regardless of what well wishers have said to her, that “there will never be a new normal.”