Next hearing set for March 27 in Globe mass shooting case

File photo: Sterling Randall Hunt

Editor's note: This is a more detailed version of a report that ran in the March 6, 2018 edition of the Arizona Silver Belt.

The next status hearing for 22-year-old Sterling Randall Hunt, of Globe, has been set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, in the Division One Courtroom of Judge Bryan B. Chambers.

Hunt is the defendant in the Nov. 11, 2018 mass shooting in downtown Globe that ultimately left three people dead and one critically injured.

His trial is set for Oct. 6, 2020,  also in Chambers’ Division One courtroom.

Chambers said that only motions filed through Feb. 15 will be considered during the March 27 hearing.

Deputy County Attorney Bradley Soos is prosecuting the case and Hunt’s defense team is made up of attorneys Michael Ziemba and Thomas Henager.

At the beginning of Hunt’s Feb. 4 status hearing, Chambers said that there had been a number of motions filed. A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the outstanding motions.

Ziemba objected to having oral arguments, requesting that Soos respond in writing instead.

“I want to prevent these from stacking up,” Soos said.

Ziemba asked Chambers permission to approach the bench with motions filed that day.

Pointing out that he was “just handed another stack,” Soos said, “All these people are not showing up to have meaningless hearings,” motioning toward the victims and victim representatives in court that day.

“I can address all of them today even though I just got them today,” Soos said.

“Let’s look at the ones we’ve got,” Chambers said.

He pointed out that Hunt defense team had waived IQ, competency and sanity pre-screen testing.

Ziemba argued that they are “free to raise competency” later. Soos agreed, but asked Chambers to put a deadline on it.

“Insanity is a defense; competency is another issue,” Soos said. “This is how these cases spin out of control. This is why I’ve asked for a hearing every six weeks. There has been plenty of time to review (Hunt’s) school records and talk to his family.”

“This is insanity. I have no other name for it,” he said. “We are never going to get to the rule-mandated October 2020 date.”

Soos then presented arguments regarding disclosure and defenses, asking that Chambers compel Hunt’s defense team to give notice of defenses and defense witnesses with 10 days.

Further discussion ensued before Chambers gave Hunt’s defense team a 180-day deadline to raise the insanity defense.

Another discussion ensued over the defense team’s motion for a list of witnesses and evidence to support alleged aggravating circumstances within 30 days, according to Rule 15.1(1)(3).

“I have no idea what the defendant’s defenses are and what witnesses they are going to question,” Soos said. “Rule 15.1(1)(3) cuts both ways.”

“Have them follow the rules and then I’ll file my list of witnesses,” he said.

Chambers asked Soos if he could make an initial disclosure, to which Soos replied, “I have no idea at this time. I can’t parse them out.”

Soos went onto say, ”The rules apply both ways. They list their defenses and the witnesses they are going to call. They want the state to comply with all the rules while they don’t comply with any.”

Chambers said that the defense is required to comply. “Same thing for witnesses?” Soos said, to which Chambers replied, “Same thing.”

Chambers also ordered Soos to comply with Rule 15.1(1)(3). He did not grant Soos’ cross motion but said that it could be raised in the future.

Another discussion ensued regarding the objection by Hunt’s defense team to Soos’ motion for taking physical evidence.

Soos replied that there is no foreseen need for additional physical evidence, as the state already had a full set of case prints as well as Hunt’s blood.

Another discussion ensued over disclosure of evidence.

Hunt’s defense team had made a Rule 15.1 request for specific disclosure, that is all DNA testing and materials. Soos replied  that, to date, no testing had been completed.

“No DNA testing has been done, so there are no results to disclose,” he said. Henanger asked that Soos respond in writing.

Hunt was arraigned Nov. 26, 2018, six days after a grand jury handed down an indictment on three counts of first degree/premeditated murder and two counts of attempted first degree/premeditated murder.

Anna Ortiz was appointed Nov. 15 as Hunt’s defense attorney. During his Nov. 26 arraignment/preliminary hearing, Ortiz entered pleas of not guilty on his behalf.

In conjunction with the County Attorney’s Office, the Globe Police Department obtained charges against Hunt Nov. 13 and a bench warrant was issued.

Hunt’s extradition hearing was held Nov. 15 in San Carlos. With extradition granted, Hunt was arrested and transported to Gila County Jail.

His initial appearance was held in Gila County Superior Court before Judge Gary V. Scales, in Globe. Hunt was held without bond.

The case was then assigned to Division One.

On Nov. 11, Cristi Licano, 44, and Daniel Albo, 22, were pronounced dead at the scene, while victims Ashley Sanchez and Charlene (Charli) Peak, both age 22, were airlifted to Valley trauma centers for their critical injuries. Sanchez succumbed to her injuries on Nov. 15.

A fifth victim, 32-year-old Scott Mills, was shot at during the incident but was “able to run for cover and he was not hit by any of the gunman’s bullets,” according to Globe Police Chief Dale Walters.

During press conferences in November, Walters described the scenario in which Albo, Sanchez and Peak had gone to the back patio of Jammerz Bar for a smoke, while Hunt went to the front.

While the three were smoking, Hunt went to the back patio and opened fire. He then left the back patio, encountering Mills and Licano and shot at them, Walters said.

Hunt played pool with the victims earlier that night, he said.

Police confiscated the weapon, which Walters described as a Glock, “9 mm, semi-automatic handgun.”

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