PHOENIX, AZ (March 14, 2011) – Judge Robert Gottsfield has imposed two consecutive natural life prison terms on Josef Alexander Arvallo (DOB 6/18/82) for the murders of Steven Leonard and Samuel Hixon. After a hung jury in December 2008, Arvallo was retried in February 2010 and found guilty of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of attempted armed robbery and two counts of kidnapping. In addition to the two lifetime prison terms, Arvallo received two concurrent sentences of 15 years and 9 months for the kidnapping charges and 11 years and 3 months for the attempted armed robbery charges.
“Although occurring in the context of another crime, these were premeditated, cold blooded murders which demanded an appropriately severe punishment to protect our community,” commented Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office prosecuted the case. “I commend Judge Gottsfield, the jury and our prosecutors for holding this criminal accountable for an especially brutal crime,” he added.
At around midnight on March 6, 2007, Steven Leonard and Samuel Hixon went to the Typhoon Car Wash at 43rd Avenue and Northern to sell a small amount of cocaine to Thomas Rodriguez. The parties did not know each other and the sale was arranged by a mutual friend. Prior to the sale, Rodriguez enlisted Joseph Arvallo to steal the cocaine at gunpoint from Leonard and Hixon and make it appear as if Arvallo was also stealing the drugs from Rodriguez. When Leonard and Hixon arrived at the car wash, Arvallo approached their vehicle with an assault rifle. Instead of stealing the drugs, he fired four shots into the cab and killed both men.
Arvallo is not eligible for parole. After two hung juries and a mistrial, Thomas Rodriguez pled guilty to two counts of manslaughter in 2010 and was sentenced to two concurrent prison terms of 15 years, 9 months.