PHOENIX, AZ (December 19, 2013) – A pair of repeat criminals received lengthy prison sentences in two separate hearings today for committing a series of violent home invasions, one of which led to the death of an elderly couple. Kevin Michael Taubman (D.O.B. 8/31/1960) was ordered to serve a Natural Life term plus 69 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. He will not be eligible for release on any basis. His accomplice, Lester Alexander Dunnings (D.O.B. 1/4/1987), was sentenced to a term of 28 years followed by a 5-year term of probation.
“These defendants justly deserve long prison sentences for inflicting violence and lasting trauma on multiple victims and their families and contributing to the deaths of two innocent members of our community,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Today’s outcome demonstrates the commitment of my office to rid our streets of violent, repeat offenders who are responsible for most of the serious crimes we see in Maricopa County,” he added.
At around 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of November 11, 2010, 87 year-old Sophia Quihuis answered the doorbell at her home to see Taubman and Dunnings. Taubman asked to use her telephone, claiming his car had broken down. He then pushed Ms. Quihuis into the house and against a couch where he “hog-tied” her hands and legs together behind her back and covered her mouth and eyes with tape. After placing her face down on the couch, the two defendants located her husband, 90 year-old Albert Quihuis, in another area of the home and tied him in the same manner as his wife, pushing him to the floor in the living room. They then searched the home for valuables and left with approximately $500 in cash and a collection of coins. Sophia and Albert Quihuis were discovered some eighteen hours later by their housekeeper. Both of them had suffered heart attacks. Sophia Quihuis died forty-three days later; Albert died ten days after her.
On November 13, 2010, two days after robbing and attacking Mr. and Mrs. Quihuis, Taubman and Dunnings entered the home of William Murray, age 79, and tied him up in a similar fashion. They took $600, a television and Murray’s vehicle. Murray was able to free himself and notify police. The defendants repeated the scenario a third time on November 15, when they forced their way into the home of Lauro and Juana Castro, both in their early 80s. After restraining the couple in separate rooms, they took money, valuables and miscellaneous food items from the home and attempted to steal the Castro’s vehicle. Lauro Castro was able to free himself after about an hour and called police.
The following day, Kevin Taubman was caught on video surveillance selling pieces of jewelry from the Castros at a pawn shop. Taubman and Dunnings were later apprehended after a member of the public responded to a police artist sketch of one of the suspects which was provided to media outlets.
On January 26, 2011, a Maricopa County Grand Jury delivered a 20-count indictment charging Taubman and Dunnings with two counts of First Degree Murder and multiple felony counts including Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Robbery, Kidnapping, Trafficking in Stolen Property and Theft of Means of Transport.
Dunnings subsequently waived his right to a trial and agreed to cooperate in the case against Taubman. On September 30, 2013, after a 15-day trial, Taubman was convicted on all counts. The jury also found aggravating factors were proven for each of the counts.