PHOENIX— Michael Paul Adams was indicted by Maricopa County Grand Jurors on July 10th on one count of First Degree Murder in the tragic death of a 17-year-old victim at a convenience store on July 4, 2019.
Prosecutors intend to prove that the defendant used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, intending or knowing that his actions would cause the death of this innocent victim. A criminal charge is not evidence of a crime. The defendant is presumed to be not guilty unless and until prosecutors have proven each element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
With interest in this case extending beyond Maricopa County and Arizona, the following is offered in addition to remarks from the press conference held by County Attorney Bill Montgomery the morning of July 11th to provide context regarding the charging of this case.
It is important to note that Arizona Revised Statutes do not contain separate hate crime offenses. Rather than require the State to prove hate or bias as an element of an offense to prove someone guilty in the first instance, Arizona law allows the State to present evidence of bias or hate to increase the sentence for any crime where a defendant’s criminal conduct was motivated by prejudice. Specifically, ARS 13-701 provides an option for enhanced sentencing when sufficient evidence exists that a defendant committed a felony crime while motivated by either, bias towards the victim’s identity or the defendant’s perception of a victim’s identity in a group listed in ARS 41-1750 (3).
In the instance of a First Degree Murder conviction, it is important to note that a defendant would face a sentence of either Natural Life in Prison or Death. Accordingly, while evidence of bias may be an important facet of a murder prosecution, a finding of bias by a judge or jury would not increase the maximum penalties already prescribed.
The entire press conference may be viewed at: https://youtu.be/n7hbQrpyKwU
Bill Montgomery is in his third term as the elected Maricopa County Attorney and in his 9th year of service. He is a West Point Graduate, decorated Gulf War Veteran, and previously served as a Deputy County Attorney. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office represents the nation’s fourth most populous county at 4.5 million people and is staffed by 1,000 employees, including over 330 prosecutors and 40 civil attorneys.