HOLBROOK— On November 8, 2016, staff at the Days Inn in Show Low called the police to remove persons from two rooms there who appeared to be smoking marijuana. When police arrived, Daniel Erickson, of Queen Creek (aka Scott Richardson), fled the scene with officers in pursuit. During the chase, Erickson (now deceased) shot Reed and the How Low police officer died at the hospital later that same day.
Later in the afternoon the same day, authorities located Erickson in a cabin number 16 at the Lake of the Woods Resort in Pinetop-Lakeside. He had taken a hostage, a then-15 year-old girl who is believed to have been at the Days Inn rooms with Erickson and others, including the girls’s mother. After a six-hour standoff at the cabin, at about 1:15 a.m., a DPS sniper shot Erickson dead.
Officer Reed’s murder shocked the community and led to an emotional outpouring of support for local police and the Reed family.
After an intensive investigation, Navajo County prosecutors initially charged seven persons with felony murder. It’s worth noting that all murders are felonies, but one particular Arizona law says that someone can be guilty of murder even if they weren’t the actual killer. If someone is killed while others are committing certain felonies, (the law lists the types of felonies) like serious drug offenses, the persons committing the felonies are on the hook for the death. Because the death happened during the commission of a felony, it has become known as “felony murder,” for short.
The state alleges that all of the defendants were involved in some way with the production and distribution of meth in the community during the time Officer Reed was killed.
Many of the cases were dismissed by the Navajo County Attorney’s Office, but just temporarily until a grand jury could review the evidence. In March 2018, the grand jury handed up its indictment accusing all seven individuals with felony murder, Class 1 felonies, and some were charged with various other crimes (19 counts total) such as money laundering, transporting and possessing dangerous drugs for sale, manufacturing meth, assisting in an illegal enterprise or a criminal syndicate, using a minor during a drug offense, and child abuse.
Court records indicate that most of the persons (five so far) accused of felony murder will have the murder charges dismissed if they plead guilty and are sentenced to charges related to the possession for sale of drugs and illegal enterprise-type charges. Four have agreed to testify against the other defendants at trial, called a Testimonial Agreement. Five of the six who pled agreed to prison time — how much time will be up to the judge at sentencing. As explained below, one has a chance at avoiding prison; instead, serving up to one year in a county jail (not the same as prison) as part of probation. That, too, will be up to the sentencing judge.
The sentencing hearings are scheduled at various times in June and July.
Jason Michael Hill
The only defendant who has so far pled to a murder charge — the lesser crime of second-degree murder — is Jason Michael Hill 36, of Phoenix. He was charged with all 19 counts in the indictment. He did not sign a Testimonial Agreement. Hill agrees that he will receive at least 25 years in prison on the second degree murder charge and 10 years for transporting dangerous drugs for sale. The time will be stacked for total of at least 35 years in prison on those two charges. He faces a minimum of probation and/or up to 5 to 15 years in prison on two other counts: participating in a criminal syndicate and involving a minor in a drug offense. According to the plea agreement the other 14 charges will be dismissed.
Hill was supposed to be sentenced on Wednesday, but the victims (relatives of Reed) have a right to be there and one of them was ill. Word apparently didn’t get to the jailers, because they brought Hill over from the jail. His new sentencing date is May 29.
Another defendant, Sariah Gilbreath 41, of Show Low has a chance at probation and maybe jail. She pled guilty to attempted possession of dangerous drugs for sale, a Class 3 felony, and participating in a criminal syndicate, a Class 2 felony. All other charges, including the felony murder charges will be dismissed. She has no prior felonies and signed a Testimonial Agreement. While she could possibly get probation, she could also serve between 2 -12 years in prison on the charges.
Lisa Tuetken 38, of Silver Lake Estates, and the mother of the then-minor girl, pled guilty to attempted possession of a dangerous drug for sale, a Class 3 felony, and participating in a criminal syndicate, a Class 2 felony. She has no prior felonies and signed a Testimonial Agreement. The ranges of sentence for her are similar to the ranges faced by Gilbreath, but Tuetken will definitely be going to prison on at least one of charges; she agreed to it. The felony murder charge and all the other charges would be dismissed.
Defendant Nannette Roldan 49, (hometown unknown) signed a Testimonial Agreement and accepted a plea offer similar to the other two women. She also agreed to a prison term, to be decided at sentencing.
Matthew Jacoby 36, (hometown unknown) has prior felonies, signed a Testimonial Agreement like the most of the other defendants and pled guilty to the same two charges as the others, (except Hill) plus an additional charge of involving a minor in a drug offense. He has agreed that he will receive no less than 4 years in prison and not more than 13 years on the attempt to possess dangerous drugs for sale and faces a range of penalties on the other two charges of 3 to 12.5 years.
Christopher Wayne Talley
On Monday, Christopher Wayne Talley 43, of Snowflake , pled guilty to similar charges as the others, but also pled guilty to involving a minor (the girl) in a drug offense, a Class 2 felony. Talley faces 5-10 years on each of the three charges. He appears not to have signed a Testimonial Agreement. In his case as well, the felony murder and the other charges will be dismissed.
Finally, the seventh accused, Maria Lies 34, of Show Low, must make a decision about taking a plea by May 28, or go to trial in June on two counts of felony murder, plus everything else she is charged with. She allegedly drove Erickson to the cabin at which he was killed. According to court records, the deadline for accepting the plea was extended once already because of Lies’ health problems, which her attorney said was making it difficult to communicate with her. The lawyer has since filed five motions asking the court to not allow a jury to hear incriminating statements allegedly made by her, and to preclude other evidence as having been gained by “outrageous” and unconstitutional methods. The prosecutors have yet to respond.
All of the defendants also face a maximum fine of $250,000; the requirement to submit to DNA testing and to pay restitution for economic loss if any is claimed and proven by the victims.