PHOENIX, AZ (April 4, 2012) - Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville today sentenced Joe Sauceda Gallegos (D.O.B. 4/19/72) to two natural life terms in the Arizona Department of Corrections for brutally beating two young boys to death in 2008. Gallegos, who was previously found to be incompetent to stand trial and not restorable within the statutory time frame, was sent to the Arizona State Hospital in 2010. Since that time, his condition has improved with medication and treatment to the point where he is now seen as competent to stand trial. He entered a change of plea of guilty at today’s hearing.
“Two grieving families have waited a long time for justice in the heinous and senseless deaths of their children. Today their wait is over,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Our heartfelt sympathies for these families are as fervent as the commitment of my office to hold criminals accountable for the harm they cause, regardless of how long it takes or how difficult the case,” he added.
Shortly after 1:00pm on December 23, 2008, Phoenix Police officers responded to a call at 9300 W. Elwood Street and found 7 year-old Jesse Michael Ramirez, Jr. and 10 year-old Edwin Anthony Pellecier, Jr. lying unresponsive in the sand of a park. Both boys had massive head injuries and were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in critical condition where they were later pronounced dead. Investigators subsequently reviewed surveillance video captured by a digital surveillance system on the front of a nearby home. The video showed the two boys walking to the park shortly before 1:00pm and a heavyset male following them about a minute later carrying what appeared to be a baseball bat. The homeowner told officers the male looked like his neighbor, Joe Gallegos.
When questioned by police, Gallegos denied any knowledge of the attack on the two boys. After conducting a records check, officers learned Gallegos had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and took him into custody. They noticed a strong odor of bleach on Gallegos’ hands and what appeared to be dried blood stains on his shoes. Investigators executed a search warrant at Gallegos’ residence and found blood stained clothing, an aluminum baseball bat, an open bottle of bleach and possible blood specks in the bathroom. DNA analysis of the baseball bat later revealed profiles of Jesse Ramirez and Edwin Pellecier.
On December 29, 2008, a Grand Jury charged Gallegos with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse. He was committed to the Arizona State Hospital on August 19, 2010 after being found incompetent to stand trial and not restorable within the statutory time limit. On March 7, 2012, Gallegos was cleared for release from the hospital and immediately rearrested and recharged for the murders.
At a hearing earlier today, Gallegos entered a change of plea of guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to two consecutive natural life terms in prison. He will not be eligible for commutation or early release under any conditions.