News Flash

MCAO Latest News

Posted on: February 28, 2013

Joel Orozco Sentenced to Death for 2001 Sexual Assault and Murder

PHOENIX, AZ (February 28, 2013) – After four days of deliberations, a Maricopa County jury has voted unanimously to sentence Joel Escalante Orozco (D.O.B. 1/30/1975) to death for violently killing a young mother in Phoenix in 2001. Orozco fled the country after the crime and was apprehended six years later after returning the U.S. He is also wanted for a separate murder in Mexico.

“The decision to seek the death penalty in this case was appropriate given the heinous and cruel manner in which this defendant robbed an innocent woman of her life in the presence of her young son,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I commend the jury for committing themselves to this long and sometimes difficult case and for ensuring that justice prevailed in the end,” he added.

Between 11:30pm on March 9, 2001 and 9:00am on March 10, 2001, Maria Garza-Rivera was sexually assaulted and killed inside her apartment in Phoenix. Her 3 year-old son was inside the apartment during the incident but was unharmed. Garza-Rivera was discovered dead in the bathtub with water running from both the showerhead and faucet. The screen to the front window of the apartment had been removed and was leaning below the window which was partially opened.

A witness reported seeing Joel Orozco talking to Garza-Rivera at around 11:30am on the morning of March 9. According to the witness, Garza-Rivera had a concerned look on her face. Orozco was a resident of the same apartment complex as the victim and was employed by the apartment complex to perform general labor and maintenance. At the time of the murder, he had been remodeling the unit occupied by Garza-Rivera. Efforts to locate and question Orozco after the murder were unsuccessful.

In May of 2007, the FBI notified the Phoenix Police Department that Joel Orozco was being detained in Blackfoot, Idaho on an immigration charge. The FBI had received information that Orozco was wanted in Phoenix and Mexico for two separate murders. Phoenix Police detectives travelled to Idaho to interview Orozco who denied killing and sexually assaulting the victim but admitted to working in her apartment. Orozco told police that he spent the night of the murder drinking with his brother-in-law and that he woke up in the apartment hallway covered in blood lying on top of the victim’s body unable to recall what happened or how he got there. He claimed his brother-in-law and sister-in-law may have had something to do with the murder as they were all in involved in a dispute over the occupancy of an apartment.

Orozco admitted to fleeing the crime scene without contacting authorities, throwing his clothing away, selling his car, and going to Mexico where he remained on the run until his federal detention for illegal entry into the U.S. in May of 2007. An analysis of a blood stain found on the window screen of Garza-Rivera’s apartment was subsequently determined to contain a mixture of Orozco’s and Garza-Rivera’s DNA. Investigators also learned that an arrest warrant had been previously issued in Mexico for Orozco’s arrest for allegedly murdering his niece.

On September 13, 2007, a Maricopa Grand Jury charged Orozco with one count of First Degree Murder, two counts of Sexual Assault and one count of Burglary. On January 16, 2013, after a 22-day trial, Orozco was found guilty of Murder, Burglary and one count of Sexual Assault. Deliberations on the penalty phase began on February 21, 2013 and concluded today.


Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in MCAO Latest News


Defendant Indicted for Sexual Assault

Posted on: October 30, 2023

Vehicular Heatstroke is Animal Abuse

Posted on: July 10, 2023
Photo of the logo for World Elder Abuse Day

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Posted on: June 15, 2023
Photo of a baby tiger.

Defendant Selling Wild Tiger Cub Indicted

Posted on: February 28, 2023

Thank You for Your Service

Posted on: February 1, 2023

No Charges for Officer Conduct

Posted on: January 30, 2023
Photos of MCAO employees

A Year in Review

Posted on: December 20, 2022

MCAO Wins Big at the 2022 APAAC Awards

Posted on: August 29, 2022
Website Graphics (1)

Help Deter Catalytic Converter Thefts

Posted on: August 22, 2022
A person reaching for a pair of car keys after they've been drinking.

Celebrate Safely this Fourth of July

Posted on: June 28, 2022
Tori posing in front of a background and flags

K-9 Victim Advocate Tori is Retiring!

Posted on: April 26, 2022

MCAO’s Citizens Academy Is Back!

Posted on: March 28, 2022

Meet our New Community Affairs Coordinator

Posted on: February 21, 2022

Stay Aware of Teen Dating Violence

Posted on: February 14, 2022
New employee meeting other employees at new job

Start the Year with a New Career

Posted on: January 19, 2022

MCAO Year in Review

Posted on: December 21, 2021
An image of caution tape and police sirens

Year in Review: 2021 Crime Trends

Posted on: December 14, 2021
A family gathering around their holiday decorations

Holiday Home and Travel Safety

Posted on: December 6, 2021
Woman shopping online for holiday gifts

Get Gifts, Not Scams this Holiday Season

Posted on: November 22, 2021
Phone Scams

How to Avoid Scams Calls

Posted on: November 15, 2021
Photo of soldier holding an American flag

Honoring All Who Serve on Veterans Day

Posted on: November 10, 2021
Photo of the twin towers

20th Anniversary of September 11th

Posted on: September 10, 2021
Image of girl with the text

Talk to Teens About Substance Abuse

Posted on: August 23, 2021
A man stealing a wallet out of someone's backpack

Practice Personal Safety in Layers

Posted on: August 16, 2021
Two students reading over documents

Internship Opportunities at MCAO

Posted on: July 29, 2021
Someone looking into a parked vehicle

Keep Your Vehicle Safe this Summer

Posted on: July 5, 2021
Utility Scams

Summer Safety Series: Utility Scams

Posted on: June 21, 2021
Three Children Holding Hands

National Missing Children's Day

Posted on: May 24, 2021
Student wearing graduation cap and gown

A Career in Public Service

Posted on: May 4, 2021
Aisha Robertson, Legal Support Assistant, MCAO Victim Services Division

Employee Spotlight: Aisha Robertson

Posted on: April 26, 2021
Victim Advocates

The Importance of Victims’ Rights

Posted on: April 22, 2021
Lady Justice

Understanding Victims’ Rights

Posted on: April 19, 2021
Protect Your Vehicle From Theft

Spring Break Tips: Prevent Car Theft

Posted on: March 15, 2021
Report Graffiti

Report Graffiti in Your Community

Posted on: February 22, 2021
Protect Your Identity

Have You Checked Your Credit Report?

Posted on: March 29, 2021
Online Dating

Swipe Safe with These Online Dating Tips

Posted on: February 8, 2021
Woman Cleaning Counter

Labor Trafficking amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on: January 25, 2021
MCAO Building

A Year in Review at MCAO

Posted on: December 23, 2020
Crime Scene Tape

2020 Snapshot: Crime Across the Valley

Posted on: December 7, 2020
Man placing Credit Card info into Laptop

Shop Safely Online this Holiday Season

Posted on: November 30, 2020
Female domestic violence victim packing suitcase with clothing

Make a Safety Plan to Get Out

Posted on: October 19, 2020
Teen Girl Texting

Remind Teens to Think Before They Send

Posted on: September 28, 2020
County Attorney Allister Adel

Body-Worn Camera Request

Posted on: September 23, 2020
Online Bully

Online Bullying During COVID

Posted on: September 21, 2020
Animal Cruelty

Report Animal Abuse to Law Enforcement

Posted on: September 14, 2020
Labor Day DUI Reminder

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend Safely

Posted on: September 3, 2020
Pills on table

International Overdose Awareness Day

Posted on: August 31, 2020

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scams

Posted on: July 23, 2020
Two Girls on Laptops

What are the risks of livestreaming?

Posted on: July 13, 2020

What is a Prosecutor?

Posted on: June 25, 2020
Man Vaping

Vaping Warning Signs for Parents

Posted on: June 18, 2020

Help Prevent Opioid Abuse at Home

Posted on: June 16, 2020
Sunset Over Canal and Homes

Keep Your Home Safe this Summer

Posted on: June 4, 2020
Looking through a car windshield at night. The lights are blurred.

Don’t Graduate into a DUI

Posted on: May 19, 2020
Happy Mothers Day

Honoring MCAO Moms

Posted on: May 8, 2020
COVID-19 Stimulus Check Scams

Stimulus Check Scams

Posted on: May 7, 2020
National Law Day 2020

It’s National Law Day

Posted on: May 1, 2020
Angela Andrews

Collaboration is Key

Posted on: April 30, 2020
Inspiration in the Face of Adversity

Inspiration in the Face of Adversity

Posted on: April 24, 2020
Heather Kirka

Charging Ahead and Working Together

Posted on: April 23, 2020
Census form on flag

We All Benefit When We Respond

Posted on: April 16, 2020
Brittany Hogard

Keeping the Wheels of Justice Rolling

Posted on: April 15, 2020
Person typing on computer keyboard

Be a Smart Online User

Posted on: April 13, 2020
Avoid Coronavirus Scams

COVID-19 Scam Awareness

Posted on: March 30, 2020

Community Outreach Highlights

Posted on: March 1, 2020
Allister with Female Staff

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Posted on: March 1, 2020
2020 Census Advertisement - Shape your Future, Start Here

YOU Count: Fill Out the Census Today

Posted on: March 1, 2020

Update On Petersen Investigation

Posted on: December 11, 2019

MCAO Honors Our Veterans

Posted on: November 8, 2019

Dion Earl Found Guilty on All Charges

Posted on: August 22, 2019

MCAO Launches Community Grants Webpage

Posted on: August 12, 2016

Update on Green Acre Dog Boarding Deaths

Posted on: September 22, 2014

National Geographic - Taboo

Posted on: August 31, 2012