Marana couple's killer gets death sentence

Michael Carlson

Benjie Sanders/Arizona Daily Sta

A Texas man sentenced to die last month for killing a Marana couple had an extra 42 years tacked onto his sentence Monday in Pima County Superior Court.

Judge Richard Nichols sentenced Michael Carlson, 56, to two consecutive 21-year sentences for kidnapping Rebecca Lou Lofton, 52, and Kenneth “KR” Alliman, 49, right before shooting them to death.

Nichols sentenced Carlson after denying two motions for a new trial, one filed by defense attorney Harley Kurlander, the other by Carlson himself. Carlson argued he was entitled to a new trial because he claimed prosecutors knowingly allowed perjured testimony from a handful of witnesses. Kurlander argued Nichols erred by not giving jurors a special instruction regarding lost or destroyed evidence.

Kurlander also lost a motion that would’ve allowed for a new sentencing hearing for the murders. He argued prosecutor Nicol Green went too far during her closing arguments.

Three years ago, the victims and Carlson were living near Marana on property owned by the Menden family.

On May 25, 2009, the Menden family said goodbye to the victims as they got into their car for a trip to Tucson.

They never saw them again.

On June 16, 2009, Carlson was arrested on an outstanding parole violation warrant from Texas. He told detectives and a TV reporter he killed the couple and burned their remains because he believed they were stealing from the Mendens.  

On June 22, 2009, deputies found tiny human bone fragments scattered in three fire pits on the property, along with Alliman’s belt buckle and a peace-sign pendant belonging to Lofton.

Crime-scene technicians discovered the couple’s blood in the trunk of a Cadillac that Carlson was driving.

Kurlander and his co-counsel, Darlene Edminson-O’Brien, tried to convince jurors Larry Menden killed the victims and Carlson falsely confessed to protect him. They also said he didn't want to return to the Texas prison system where he has been repeatedly beaten, stabbed and raped.

At the same time Carlson confessed to killing the victims, he confessed to killing his sister, Maria Thoma, 51, here in 2003.

The Pima County Attorney's Office dismissed all of the charges in that case after Judge Christopher Browning threw out the taped interview because detectives violated his Miranda rights.

Jurors didn’t hear Carlson's confession to detectives in the Alliman-Lofton case for the same reason.

In other news, Green has dismissed a third case against Carlson.

Carlson had been facing trial on charges alleging he stole the Cadillac and fled from police prior to the murders being discovered, but while Texas authorities were looking for him for violating his parole in an armed robbery case.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or