Defendant in 3 murders in 2012 to get competency evaluation

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Michael Crane has pleaded not guilty to three murders he is charged with committing in late January 2012, but during one of his many outbursts in court on Friday, he declared the opposite.

“I take the blame for all these crimes and would like to go home,” Crane said, pointing his finger skyward.

Crane, 36, is charged with first-degree murder in the January 2012 deaths of Glenna and Lawrence Shapiro of Paradise Valley and Bruce Gaudet of Phoenix. The deaths were part of two separate home invasions that Crane is accused of being involved in. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

His admission in Maricopa County Superior Court during a routine hearing gave Judge Warren Granville pause. The judge told Crane that his sudden change of heart was alarming and, combined with his unpredictable behavior in court, again brought into question Crane’s mental competency.

Granville explained to Crane that he wanted to approve the Rule 11 motion filed by his defense attorney and the state to determine if his “intent to change his plea was voluntarily or if his mental stability was playing a part.” A Rule 11 in Arizona is defined such that a person who may have a mental illness, defect or disability cannot stand trial, be convicted, sentenced or punished for any public offense.

“Fine, fine,” Crane said, “get ‘er done.” Before the judge could finish, Crane hollered out “We done?” becoming visibly more agitated.

“Irregardless to whenever the change of plea is submitted in this case, it is the state’s intention to take this case before a jury,” Deputy County Attorney Patricia Stevens said, adding that because this is a capital-murder case, they would not be offering a plea deal to Crane.

As Crane was being escorted out of court by sheriff’s deputies, he turned to his family members in the gallery and said he loved them. He then swung all the way around to look at Stevens and, after calling her names, said, “Rule 11 is ridiculous and unnecessary.”

Crane spat expletives at Granville, as well, as he exited the courtroom.

Disruptions and profanity-laced tirades are par for the course when Crane appears in court. Such behavior prompted officials to look into his mental stability in early April 2015. He is expected to be back in court May 19 after his defense team and the state have had time to review the court-ordered mental-health assessment.

Crane pleaded guilty last month to two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of armed robbery and burglary in a separate case. His sentencing is set for April.

, The Republic | azcentral.com

 

Funnel cloud forms in Scottsdale

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Arizona is not used to this weather.

People in Scottsdale were surprised when they saw a cold air funnel cloud near Talking Stick Resort on Sunday afternoon.

A cold air funnel is a high based, weak circulation that occurs in a cool air mass. It develops well above the earth’s surface. Since it is high based and weak, they rarely impact the earth’s surface, although they can look threatening.

Unlike typical tornadoes, cold air funnels develop in a shallow cool air mass and often behind a cold frontal passage.

The cloud is part of a storm system that brought rain to the Valley and snow to the high country.

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[READ MORE: Storm fills up Valley rain gauges; snow blankets Flagstaff]

Posted: Feb 20, 2017 8:32 AM TST Updated: Feb 20, 2017 9:51 PM TST

Endangered Species Act under fire from lawmakers

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Recently, a Senate hearing was held to discuss the possibility to change or modernize the Endangered Species Act.

Republican lawmakers including Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming said that the act wasn’t working and went on to say that it was hindering job growth and keeping protected lands from mining and development.

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There are other Republican lawmakers who want to see the act changed to only allow one species on the list at a time. Currently, there are over 1,600 species on the list.

Here in Arizona, the state is home to more than 70 species that are endangered or threatened. Conservation efforts have been able to help some populations including the Black Footed Ferret. The small, cute creature is the most endangered species in North America. In the early 1980s, it was believed the species had gone extinct, but 24 were found and saved.

Today, 1,000 live in facilities, and another 1,000 are in the wild. The population is slowly recovering, and it’s all thanks to the Endangered Species Act.  It helped to fund research, staff and studies to find the best ways to save the Black Footed Ferret.

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There are several facilities across the country that help to build the population, and one of them is at the Phoenix Zoo. The Black Footed Ferret’s population declined dramatically when its primary food source, the prairie dog, was being killed off by land development and farmers.  It also experienced a terrible plague that nearly wiped them out.

Conservationists say that with their help, the population of the Black Footed Ferret could reach stable levels in a decade and it could be taken off the endangered species list.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Posted: Feb 17, 2017 11:09 AM TST

Updated: Feb 17, 2017 2:20 PM TST

By Jeff Van Sant

Arizona hitchhiker steals vehicle of helpful motorist

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SEDONA, AZ (AP) – A hitchhiker is accused of stealing the vehicle of an Arizona man who stopped to help him and buy him breakfast.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office says the 69-year-old motorist was driving south of Sedona on Friday when he spotted the hitchhiker, who looked like he spent the night outside.

After stopping at a cafe, the motorist offered to get $20 from his bank to help the hitchhiker – identified as 31-year-old Ricardo Munoz Ayala. Because it was cold, he left the car running with Ayala inside.

When the motorist came out, Ayala and the car were gone.

Authorities say Ayala failed to stop when he was spotted south of Phoenix. Spike strips were used but he continued driving for another 20 miles on flat tires.

Ayala was booked into the Pima County jail on numerous charges.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted: Jan 31, 2017 11:09 AM TST

Updated: Jan 31, 2017 11:09 AM TST

 

 

Man dies after falling from South Sixth Garage

 

A man has died after falling from the Sixth St. Garage on the north side of Sixth Street early Thursday afternoon. The University of Arizona Police Department shut down the south entrances and shuttle-bus pickup lane on the south side of the Sixth Street Garage for several hours to investigate.

The 21-year-old man was not a UA student, according to UAPD Sgt. Cindy Spasoff, the information officer on the scene. The man was spotted on top of the garage shortly before noon, and was later found on the ground near the center stairwell, where medical personal treated him.

UAPD is “currently unsure” on the details of what happened, but the man was transported to Banner University Medical Center-Tucson for treatment, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police are investigating the death as a suicide.

Police know the identity of the man, but are not releasing his name at this time. His family has been notified, police said.

Suspect in Mesa teacher’s death arrested in California

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Susanville California Highway Patrol have arrested the man suspected of shooting and killing a Mesa High School teacher, according to a Tempe police spokesman.

Caleb Bartels, 27, has been the subject of a nationwide manhunt for nearly a week.

At 9:08 a.m. Saturday, an off-duty officer in Doyle, Calif. spotted the vehicle belonging to Bartels parked alongside a highway, said Sgt. Josie Montenegro, Tempe police spokeswoman.

Tempe police late Monday had identified Bartels as a suspect in the Jan. 15 death of Mesa High School math teacher Ryne Zahner, 26. According to court records and Tempe police, Bartles was pulled over three times in the hours following the shooting – once southwest of Page, once in Utah and once in Nevada. He was released all three times, as Tempe police had not yet named him as a suspect.

Soaked Saguaro Crushes Glendale Family Truck

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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) –

A Glendale family believes last weekend’s storm is to blame for a 30-foot saguaro falling and crushing one of their trucks.

The 10,000 lb cactus stood in Jordan Duncan’s front yard near 43rd Avenue and Bell Road until early Saturday morning when it fell across the driveway and crushed his Nissan truck.

“It crushed the truck almost like a tin can,” said Duncan.

The homeowner, who estimates the saguaro is about 25 years old, noticed the cactus starting to lean about two years ago.

“If they’re learning towards your house, I would get them removed because it could do some serious damage,” he said.

Since there are strict rules on touching cacti in Arizona, Duncan called a professional.

“If there’s a saguaro on your property and you want to remove it, you need to get permission from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. But once it’s fallen, you can cut it up and remove it,” said Duncan.

After getting a $2,000 quote, Duncan decided to hold off on moving the cactus from his yard.

“It’s pretty expensive to get it removed so I just played the odds and I did lose,” said Duncan.

With more rain coming to the valley, Duncan warns others with cacti to take precautions.

“As the ground gets soaked and the cacti fill up with water, it makes them a lot heavier so if you have a saguaro in your yard that you see leaning, I would look at it getting anchored down,” said Duncan