Mo Money Pawn Shop requires an extensive background check in order to purchase a gun. General manager Byron Vaughn explains a typical situation at the shop, where police say the “Serial Street Shooter” suspect sold a gun. Yihyun Jeong/azcentral.com
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Aaron Juan Saucedo, the man identified by police as the suspected “Serial Street Shooter,” tells a judge he is innocent during an initial appearance on May 9, 2017, in Phoenix.
Maricopa County Superior Court
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The Arizona Republic reporter Megan Cassidy sums up the press conference held at Phoenix police headquarters announcing the arrest of the suspect in the “Serial Street Shooter” case on May 8, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
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Phoenix police have arrested Aaron Saucedo in connection with the “Serial Street Shooting” case.
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Phoenix police released this recording of a 911 call made by a victim of the so-called ‘serial street shooter’ in a July 11, 2016, incident — the latest in the string of unsolved shootings.
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Teresa Anderson explains what it’s like to live in the Maryvale area where fatal shootings have occurred. Video by Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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A 16-year-old boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while walking in the 1000 block of East Moreland Street. Police say this shooting is the first in a string of shootings attributed to the Phoenix “serial street shooter.”
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On March 18, about 11:30 p.m., a 21-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while standing outside of his vehicle in the 4300 block of North 73rd Avenue. This is a 911 call made shortly after the incident.
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Republic reporters Megan Cassidy and Michael Kiefer talk about a recent update in the “serial street shooter” case. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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At a press conference held at the Phoenix Police Department, the Mayor of Phoenix and members of law enforcement asked for public help in solving the serial shooter case. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Tom Tingle/ azcentral.com
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Thomas Braxton, 47, discusses the “serial street shooter” who has been connected to a ninth shooting incident, in the 3000 block of Oak Street. Adrian Hedden/azcentral
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The Phoenix Police Department met with members of the community on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
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Sharon Layton talks about the night Angela Linner, Stefanie Ellis and Maleah Ellis were shot and describes how she and family members tried to help. David Kadlubowski/azcentral.com
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According to police, four shootings committed in west Phoenix are likely connected to the same shooter or shooters. Megan Cassidy and Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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Police are asking for the public’s help in solving a string of unsolved murders in west Phoenix, including three shootings in the first two weeks of June.
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Background check for guns at Mo Money Pawn Shop
Aaron Juan Saucedo appears before judge
Reporter Megan Cassidy on Phoenix ‘Serial Street Shooter’ arrest
Phoenix police arrest suspect in ‘Serial Street Shooter’ case
911 call: The latest Phoenix ‘serial street shooter’ victim calm after shooting
Maryvale resident talks about violence
911 call: The first attack attributed to the ‘serial street shooter’
911 call: The second ‘serial street shooter’ incident
‘Serial street shooter’ case
Law enforcement asks for public help in serial shooter case
Neighbor comments on ‘serial street shooter’
Maryvale community meeting
‘We just don’t know why they did it’
Police: 5 west Phoenix homicides likely connected
Phoenix police seek public help to solve string of murders
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge took under advisement a request by several media outlets to unseal court records regarding Aaron Juan Saucedo, who police and prosecutors believe to be the “Serial Street Shooter” who terrorized predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods in Phoenix between the summer of 2015 and July 2016.
In a hearing Wednesday, Maricopa County Attorney Patricia Stevens argued that the document should remain closed to keep the media from interfering in the ongoing investigation and to protect what she called “investigatory conclusions” set forth in the document.
Saucedo, 23, currently faces charges in connection with a single killing.
Tim Agan, an attorney for Saucedo, told Judge Scott McCoy that Saucedo, like prosecutors, preferred the records to remain sealed because he is not charged with any additional crimes.
“At this point, we are dealing with one murder charge,” he said.
Agan said it’s not a foregone conclusion that Saucedo would be charged with everything mentioned in the arrest document, and he didn’t want to jeopardize Saucedo’s chances of getting a fair trial.
At issue is a standard court document referred to as a Form IV (pronounced “form four”), a police-generated probable-cause statement included in the official paperwork for a defendant’s initial appearance before a judge.
Initial appearances usually are conducted in a special courtroom inside the county’s Fourth Avenue Jail. During those appearances, the suspect is asked to identify himself or herself, the prosecutor states the reason the person should be detained, and the judge determines bond or other release conditions before setting a court date for a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary hearings usually are canceled, however, because the prosecutor has gone before a grand jury and obtained an indictment.
Form IV sealed in Saucedo case
Form IVs routinely and automatically are released to the public and the press, but in Saucedo’s case, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office persuaded McCoy last week to seal the document.
Motions filed by the office argue that as the representative of the state in the case, its interests trump those of the press and the general public.
The Arizona Republic and other media outlets intervened in the case and asked the judge to unseal the document because of intense public interest in the case and the public’s First Amendment right to know.
Essentially, prosecutors say that press coverage threatens to interfere with the investigation. In a response to the media request to unseal the document, Stevens cited examples including a visit that reporters for The Republic paid to one of the surviving victims, during which they showed him a photograph of Saucedo that already had been widely disseminated by police.
The victim said the photo was not one he had picked out when police showed him a photo lineup.
Stevens spoke at length about the showing of the photo, and said that it potentially “harmed a victim and a witness.”
McCoy asked, “Doesn’t the public have the right to have trained professionals complete the investigation?”
Craig Hoffman, an attorney for the media, responded, “Doing reporting on ongoing investigations is the job of the media.”
TIMELINE: Phoenix ‘Serial Street Shooter’ case
Arizona, like most states and the federal government, has public-records laws that are supposed to guarantee transparency of government. Police reports and court records are not exempt from those laws.
It is a standard journalism practice to talk to victims or witnesses while reporting the news. The prosecutor’s response in Saucedo’s case characterized the practice as “demonstrated media interference with the pre-trial investigation.”
The response goes on to say that the Form IV contains addresses of the crime scenes and names.
“Because the Form IV contains considerable details about investigative conclusions, and also contains the names of minor victims as well as home addresses of some of the victims, there is a substantial probability that the ongoing investigation would be severely compromised if the sealed document was to be released,” the prosecution wrote. “Already, here, the press has shown pictures of the suspect to surviving victims which could jeopardize a future in-court identification.
“Compelling reasons exist to maintain the secrecy of the investigation at least until charges are filed. The need for confidentiality of the investigation outweighs the public’s qualified constitutional rights of access.”
Most of the police reports from those crimes attributed to the Street Shooter already have been released to the press in redacted form, and the identities of victims have been widely reported.
Form IVs are usually a few paragraphs long and rarely exceed a page or two of text — as compared with the hundreds of pages of police reports already released.
Stevens said during the hearing that her office would be willing to revisit the matter sometime in the future. When McCoy asked how far in the future, she responded that she would need to wait until prosecutor Juan Martinez, who is expected to prosecute the case, is back in the office.
Little info released since May 8
In summer 2016, Phoenix police began to link a series of shootings in east-central Phoenix and the west Phoenix neighborhood called Maryvale. They zeroed in on nine incidents between March 17, 2016, and July 11, 2016.
Witnesses alternately described attacks carried out by one or more people who either shot from car windows or got out of the car to shoot point-blank. They described several different vehicles driven by the attacker.
Seven people were killed, two wounded, and two were shot at but escaped injury. Four of the victims were African-American females, the rest Hispanic males.
The last of the victims described the shooter in detail and mentioned that he drove a black BMW.
On April 19, police booked Saucedo into jail, accused of murdering his mother’s boyfriend, Raul Romero, in 2015. Rumor buzzed that Saucedo was suspected of being the Serial Street Shooter. It did not go unmentioned that he owned a black BMW.
On May 8, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced at a press conference that Saucedo was suspected of the remaining crimes, and besides Romero, she added two more crimes to the Street Shooter portfolio — a north-central Phoenix drive-by in 2015 and a January 2016 murder.
Little information has been released since.
Saucedo was transported from jail to the courthouse Wednesday, but after conferring with his attorneys decided not to be present at the hearing.
Saucedo earlier professed innocence at his initial court appearance. So far, members of his family contacted by The Republic have declined to comment about the case. But community activists have raised questions about why, even after publicly announcing that they believed Saucedo was the killer, police have offered almost no details about the evidence linking him to victims other than Romero.
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