A Tucson man charged in the 2000 killing of a 16-year-old girl who was shot to death in her front yard was convicted this morning of manslaughter.
It was the second time Louis Machado, 31, was tried in the Oct. 25, 2000, death of Rebecca Ramsay.
Jurors deliberated nine hours over two days. He is facing 7 to 21 years in prison when he is sentenced March 4 in Pima County Superior Court.
Ramsay’s mother, Lorie Artery, was on the telephone when she heard Ramsay pull up outside her home near East 22nd Street and South Craycroft Road. She heard a gunshot and when she opened her front door, her daughter collapsed. She and neighbors performed CPR, but the girl died in her arms.
The Academy of Tucson honors student had just returned home from church-sponsored pizza party.
Tucson police identified Machado as a suspect in 2001, but he wasn't charged until October 2006.
During his February 2008 trial, jurors learned Machado’s mother, girlfriend and others told detectives Machado confessed to shooting Ramsay. They also heard from a neighbor who came forward years after the fact to say he finally realized a man he saw the night of the slaying was Machado, a friend of his son’s.
When speaking with police, Patricia Machado said her son told her he shot toward Ramsay hoping to persuade her father to pay a drug debt he owed Gilbert Machado, Louie Machado's father and her estranged husband. She later recanted.
Machado’s girlfriend at the time, Kala Holden, told police Machado confessed in a phone call to her, but then later said she must’ve misunderstood because they had a bad connection.
Machado was convicted of second-degree murder, but the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court later ruled that now-retired Judge Frank Dawley should not have limited evidence linking a second man to Ramsay's death.
Machado’s conviction and sentence were overturned and his new trial began Jan. 8.
During opening statements, Deputy Pima County Attorney Casey McGinley said Machado told no fewer than seven people he either killed Ramsay or he was there that night, including Holden and his mother. Machado had once dated one of Ramsay’s cousins.
While it's true Machado told a variety of people he was at the murder scene that night, his words were those of a "braggart," a young man trying to impress his friends, Assistant Pima County Public Defenders Joel Feinman and Walter Palser told jurors.
The defense attorneys told jurors Ramsay was killed by Jonathan Hutchens, who was dating one of Ramsay's friends and believed Ramsay was interfering with their relationship.
On Wednesday, jurors heard testimony from two of Hutchens’ former girlfriends, who testified Hutchens had a propensity for violence.
Nicole Carter told jurors Hutchens kept a framed photo of Ramsay in his bedroom.
She also read from a letter Hutchens wrote to her after they separated. In it, he said Ramsay was his higher power and that she had sent Carter to him just as he was getting ready to shoot the person who shot Ramsay.
Under cross-examination, Carter acknowledged Hutchens also told Carter he’d never killed anybody, raped anybody or committed a crime that was without honor.
Deana Barnes testified Hutchens tried to kill her one night, saying that he’d killed before and would kill again. Hutchens also pointed what appeared to be an old revolver at her.
Although no murder weapon was found, authorities believe Ramsay was killed with an antique .32 caliber revolver.
Barnes expressed surprise when McGinley told her police described the gun Hutchens used that night as a “toy.” She was told it was a real gun that had had it’s firing pin removed and it’s barrel plugged, Barnes said.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org