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Judge Strips AZ Prosecutors Of Power After They Allegedly Gave Suspect Confess-Or-Die Ultimatum


Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting was investigating three homicides, and hired Hounshell as one of the investigators last year. According to Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic, "Whiting said that within days, Hounshell identified suspects in the murders, leading to a series of confessions."

One of the suspects, Joseph D. Roberts, was charged with "first-degree murder, conspiracy, concealment of a body and auto theft" before Hounshell visited him in prison and, according to a prison transcript, said: "It will be a tougher road for you. . . . If you take the risk of a life sentence or lethal injection . . . that is something you'll have to deal with." He also said the prosecutor's office hadn't "charged your wife yet. So that's another situation you may be dealing with at a later date."

Hounshell did not inform Roberts' attorney of the meeting.

Superior Court Judge Donna Grimsley ruled yesterday that this violated Roberts' sixth amendment rights, and transferred the case to another prosecutor.