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May 2024


May was a month that brought us major trial verdicts, decisions on reproductive rights, and a new PSA.  Your May community newsletter has arrived.


Murad Dervish Trial Verdict

On May 21, 2024, after less than three hours of deliberation, a Pima County jury found Murad Dervish guilty on all charges, including first-degree murder in the death of Hydrology Professor Thomas Meixner. On October 5, 2022, our community was shaken by the tragic pre-meditated murder of Professor Thomas Meixner, after Dervish entered the University of Arizona campus and committed this horrific crime. The impact of this case has left a lingering effect on the U of A campus community, the Tucson community, and those who were there when the crime occurred.

After months of hard work, and preparation, by Pima County Prosecutors Mark Hotchkiss and Hayley Weigold, PCAO paralegals and staff, PCAO Detectives who helped secure out of and our Victim Services Division who immediately responded to provide counseling to faculty, staff, and students after the shooting, we are glad to see that justice is served in this case. Our teams will continue to work with victims who are still in need of assistance given the devastating impacts of Dr. Meixner’s murder.

With this guilty verdict, our community can continue to heal, but the work is not nearly done. In honor of the family’s expressed wishes, and under her own desire for a safer community, County Attorney Conover will bring her red flag legislation back to the legislature again next year, and for as long as it takes, to bring home common-sense gun safety reforms for a safer and healthier community.
Sentencing is set for June 24, 2024.


Other cases in May

Another trial win for the month includes Gerardo Barraza-Salinas’ conviction. This was a horrific case that took a lot of hard work from the tireless efforts of prosecutors Brad Terrace and Ryan Gant, PCAO staff including Victim Services and our Detective’s Bureau along with Tucson Police.

Along with that successful conviction, was a guilty verdict for a second-degree vehicular murder case against Sergio Oliveros led by prosecutor Donald Porterfield. Oliveros was driving with meth in his system at 83 mph in a 40 mph zone and collided with another car killing the driver. We’re hoping that the decisions in these cases will help victims get some degree of closure. 


The Continued Fight for Reproductive Rights

Stethoscope with heart beat report and doctor analyzing checkup on laptop in health medical laboratory background

In our Civil Division, we filed another brief with the Arizona Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should stay its mandate (ruling) in the reproductive health case, allowing the legislative repeal of the 1864 law to take effect first. Then on Monday, May 13, the Arizona Supreme Court stayed enforcement of the 1864 law and granted the AG’s motion to stay the mandate in this case for another 90 days. During this period, we will continue to consider the best legal course of action. Under the recent Arizona Supreme Court stay (90 days from 5.13 to 8.12) and the binding order in Isaacson (45 days from 8.12 to 9.26), the earliest the 1864 law can take effect is now September 26, 2024.

This means pregnant persons in Pima County can still obtain, and medical providers in Pima County will not be prosecuted for, providing abortion care in accordance with Title 36 up until September 26, 2024. PCAO continues to analyze legal options in consult with State and national-level experts to continue to plan for what comes after this fall.

We are still hopeful that the people of Arizona will have the final say this November.

A Collaborative Response to SB1070

In a show of solidarity,  PCAO joined forces with fellow border County Attorneys and issued a bipartisan statement to speak out about the public safety dangers of HB 2060 – the misguided attempt to bring SB1070 “Show Me Your Papers” back to life. 
Laura has also spoken to national media outlets about the issue. 


Meet Our New Summer Law Clerks

We welcomed the first crew of law clerks for the summer! It’s so heartwarming and inspiring to be flooded with a bullpen of sharp and excited go-getters who have chosen the People’s Office to launch their legal professional careers.

PCAO Out in the Community

Our team at PCAO attended the 2024 TUSD Legacy Awards College Scholarship Celebration.  It was a great way to meet community leaders and help future leaders along the way. 

Our very own Civil Deputy and Appeals attorney James Rappaport was named the new President of the Pima County Bar Association.  Way to go, James!


Laura along with Public Defender Megan Page spoke to the 2024 Greater Tucson Leaders group about how our local judicial system works. It was a fantastic opportunity to educate and connect with the community. 

Our election lawyers in the Civil Division will be attending a Statewide training soon to prepare themselves for the front lines of keeping voters safe and free from voter intimidation.
We also started production on our next set of Public Safety Announcements with the Tucson Fire Department, as the swimming and pool season ramps up. Water Safety Starts with you! 

American at a polling booth

Happy Retirement

Congratulations to Mike O’Hearn who’s retiring after more than 12 years of leading our Trial Support Services Unit at the office and a total of 29 years at the County. Enjoy your retirement.

We Are Hiring!!!

We recruit legal researchers, litigators, and professional staff who use their unique talents to move our Office forward. You’re invited to apply to work for a progressive prosecuting agency that values accountability, public service, and outcome-driven thinking.
We offer excellent work-life balance, great incentives, and a generous benefits package, including:
Healthcare Options
Paid Leave Options
Flexible Work Arrangements
Retirement Benefits
Education Reimbursement Program
Tuition Discount Program
Employee Loan Program
Employee Referral Incentive Program
Wellness Program with up to $75 monthly medical premium discounts
Employee discounts for fitness clubs, goods and services
Pima County provides equal access and equal opportunity in employment and services and does not discriminate. View the Pima County Attorney’s Office EEO Utilization Report.
All open PCAO positions APPLY HERE


Messages of the Month

Sankt-Petersburg Russia November 11, 2017: Apple iPhone 7 on wooden table with icons of social media facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat application on screen. Smartphone Starting social media app.

Here’s a look at some of the links to social media and podcast messages we shared throughout February.

All Podcast episodes are available here:

Social Media Posts:

Memorial Day
Asian American Pacific Islander Month
Fentanyl Awareness Day 2024

The latest episode of The People’s Office Podcast: Contributions of women in Pima County.

Smiles from the Month (you might see a few canines in the mix)

The rest of this monthly newsletter is dedicated to the furry family members of PCAO staff. Enjoy!!!

See you NEXT MONTH!!

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