Friday, July 08, 2011

Gaxiola’s former attorney describes him as a ‘Rhodes Scholar’

Albert Gaxiola
(pool photo by Benjie
Sanders/Arizona Daily

A Tucson attorney who previously represented former Arivaca resident Albert Robert Gaxiola told the Pima County Superior Court jury that will decide if he spends the rest of his life in prison or is executed by lethal injection that he was a good client to represent.

Last Friday, Gaxiola, 44, was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores and his daughter Brisenia, as well as six other charges. Earlier this year, Jason Eugene Bush and Shawna Forde were found guilty on the same charges in separate trials. They both ended up with death sentences imposed by the juries hearing the evidence of their crimes.

Thomas Reed, Esq. has been an attorney in Arizona since 1974. He has worked as a prosecutor, but mostly as a criminal defense attorney.

One of the reasons Reed considered Gaxiola to be a good client is that he paid his bill. “I don’t remember how much he paid me, but I know he paid me because I remember every single guy who hasn’t paid me,” he said.

Reed also described Gaxiola as more intelligent than the average client. “In this particular job I have you don’t run into a lot of Rhodes Scholars in your clientele. You run into a lot of people who are totally unlike you,” he said. Rhodes Scholar recipients study at Oxford University, in England, for one to two years, but some people refer to persons who appear to be more intelligent than others as Rhodes Scholars.

Gaxiola in Pima County Superior Court retained Reed on case CR-33196, which included the charges conspiracy to sell marijuana and unlawful transportation of marijuana for sale. “I recall that I recommended that he take the plea,” Reed testified. “The client makes that decision and I do my best to advise them.”

Gaxiola entered into a favorable plea agreement where probation was available and later withdrew from the plea so the case was set for trial. When the trial came Gaxiola failed to show up and was tried and convicted in absentia. At the sentencing hearing, Judge William Scholl gave Gaxiola an aggravated sentence in prison. “He gave him 10 years. He went over the presumptive and Albert was a minor player,” Reed asserted.

Yesterday, Gaxiola’s sister, Sonia Muniz, was asked during cross-examination whether the Sandy Sanchez who was indicted in this same case was Gaxiola’s mother and she testified that it was. After the jury was sent home for the evening defense counsel chastised the prosecution for making an error in asking the question, as the Sandy Sanchez on the indictment was a cousin not his mother. Reed was asked if he remembered if the co-defendant Sandy Sanchez was his client’s mother. “I don’t remember Sandy Sanchez,” he testified. “I hate having family cases.”

Reed was asked on cross-examination by Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay to explain how Gaxiola had come to be indicted in that case. “The police provided the pot and he drove the vehicle,” he said.

Unklesbay asked for clarification as to Reed’s statement that Gaxiola had played a minor role. “Obviously, Judge Scholl disagreed with that because he gave him an aggravated sentence,” Unklesbay said. “Objection, calls for speculation,” said Lansdale. “Absolutely true judge,” Reed interjected. “Overruled,” said Leonardo. “You’ve never done a sentencing with Judge Scholl,” Reed said. “I’ve done many of them,” Unklesbay said. “On the other table though,” Reed replied, as the jury and spectators chuckled.