Jack Upchurch

Photo courtesy of Pima County Sheriff's Department

Man admits he helped hinder murder probe

A Tucson man who admitted sealing up a murder victim in a bathroom could be placed on probation or receive up to a 10-year prison sentence.

Jorge Osorio Diaz, 23, pleaded guilty Thursday to burglary and hindering prosecution and will be sentenced March 29 by Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley.

Diaz's lover, Jonathan Baumbach, killed Robert Pardee, 61, in June 2011, according to court documents and testimony.

Diaz admitted that afterward he used tape to seal Pardee up in a bathroom in the hopes of keeping the smell at bay. He also acknowledged he and Baumbach, 28, stole the victim's credit cards, truck and other personal belongings.

The two men partied in Las Vegas for a couple of days before continuing to Washington, where they were found sleeping in the back of Pardee's truck.

Baumbach, who was once facing a potential death sentence, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 31 years in prison earlier this week.

Kellie Johnson, chief criminal deputy county attorney, said Baumbach was offered a plea agreement to spare Pardee's daughter the trauma of a trial.

Court documents and testimony indicate Pardee was killed because he became tired of Baumbach and Diaz using his home to party.

Pardee, a landscape architect, took part in designing Agua Caliente Park and participated in the creation of Feliz Paseos Park, which is distinctive for its paved trail to afford access for disabled people.

Kim Smith

Police seek brother in self-storage thefts

Two brothers - one now in custody - are suspects in burglaries of an Oro Valley self-storage facility in which more than $60,000 in items were stolen, authorities said Thursday.

Elmer Upchurch, 27, was arrested at a pawnshop by a state Department of Public Safety gang task force on unrelated charges, said Lt. Kara Riley, an Oro Valley Police Department spokeswoman.

Oro Valley police began an investigation Dec. 28 after they were dispatched to Arizona Self Storage, 10880 N. Mavinee Drive, to a report of several burglarized storage facilities, Riley said.

Oro Valley police and DPS gang task force investigators began working the case jointly after it was learned that Upchurch and his brother, Jack Upchurch, 28, were suspects, Riley said. The brothers have ties to gangs, she said.

Investigators served a search warrant and recovered stolen property in the 13000 block of North Lon Adams Road in Marana, Riley said.

Elmer Upchurch will face charges of felony theft in excess of $20,000, three counts of third-degree burglary and trafficking in stolen property, Riley said.

Jack Upchurch, who has a history of violence, is wanted for questioning in the case, she said.

Jack Upchurch has brown hair and blue eyes. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. He may have shaved his head, Riley said.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

Carmen Duarte

Day-care owner guilty of child abuse

A 48-year-old child-care provider could be placed on probation or receive up to two years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to child abuse.

Toni Fierro will be sentenced April 18 by Pima County Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini.

Fierro was taking care of a 3-year-old boy on July 2, and when he was picked up from her home the next day he had bruises on his biceps, buttocks and face, and had abrasions on his collarbone, according to court documents.

She told detectives the boy fell out of the car and she grabbed him by the arm and he landed on his buttocks, the documents said. She also said the toddler fell on rocks and ran into a door. Fierro initially said she only saw bruising on the boy's arm, but later said she noticed bruising on his buttocks, the documents said.

A doctor said the bruises were caused by blunt-force trauma and were not accidental, the documents said.

Fierro was a child-care provider licensed by the Arizona Department of Economic Security for 15 years and ran a day-care center from her home near East 29th Street and South Wilmot Road.

Kim Smith