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MCAO News Releases

Posted on: June 10, 2019

Caleb Bartels Sentenced to Natural Life For Killing a Mesa Teacher

PHOENIX— Caleb Bartels (D.O.B. 11-25-1989) was sentenced today to Natural Life plus 15 years in the Department of Corrections after being found guilty of 1st Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault and Burglary.

“This case involved the senseless death of a beloved math teacher who is mourned not only by his family, but by his students and community, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Today’s sentencing is a fitting punishment for the unjustified taking of an innocent life.”

In the early morning hours of January 15, 2017, the defendant entered the backyard of 26-year-old Ryne Zahner, the defendant’s former friend and roommate. Ryne was in the yard catching up with a good friend, who was also the defendant’s younger brother. The defendant began yelling at the men, then pointed an automatic rifle at the victim and fired multiple shots, killing him. The defendant’s brother attempted to wrestle the gun from the defendant, but eventually ran from the backyard and called police.

The defendant’s brother was able to identify the shooter the day after the attack, and police soon learned that the defendant had been involved in a traffic stop leaving Arizona a few hours after the murder. The defendant was stopped again in two other states before being identified as the shooter and was finally captured in California several days later. Inside the defendant’s car, officers found receipts for the gun used to kill Zahner and receipts for ammunition matching the shell casings found at the scene.

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