A prosecutor with the Pinal County Attorney’s Office was suspended from practicing law for violating professional conduct standards stemming from a homicide case in Pima County.
Attorney Richard M. Wintory was suspended effective March 15 from practicing law for 90 days under an agreement with the State Bar of Arizona.
The agreement was accepted by Mark S. Sifferman, acting presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Wintory also was ordered to pay $1,911 to the State Bar for costs incurred during its investigation.
Wintory, who could not be reached for comment, was placed on administrative leave without pay for the duration of the suspension, Jim Knupp, a Pinal County Attorney’s Office spokesman, said in an email Wednesday. Wintory will return to his duties once the suspension is completed, Knupp said.
The State Bar began an investigation into Wintory in January 2013 in regard to a homicide case in which Darren Irving Goldin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the drug-related killing of Kevin Estep.
In May 2010, Wintory obtained a first-degree-murder indictment against Goldin, 52, while working as a prosecutor for the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
When Wintory resigned and moved to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, he took the case with him and announced in August 2010 that he would be seeking the death penalty for Goldin, who was accused of paying another man $5,000 to kill Estep.
After sentencing Goldin to 11 years in prison under a plea deal, Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang announced that he would ask the State Bar to investigate Wintory for possible ethical violations.
Wintory was removed from the case by his supervisor in the state Attorney General's Office, and the office was no longer seeking the death penalty.
The State Bar found Wintory committed wrongdoing by repeatedly communicating by phone with a confidential intermediary who had been appointed to assist the defense in uncovering mitigation evidence as part of the death-penalty case.
It also found that Wintory did not inform the court, his co-counsel or his supervisors of the extent of his conversations with the confidential intermediary.
As a result, the defense filed a motion to have Wintory and the Attorney General’s Office recused from prosecuting the case.
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall could not be reached for comment.