A Tucson man was convicted Wednesday of shooting his wife to death in November 2016 at a neighbor's apartment.
King Yates, 25, who represented himself in the six-day trial with Bobbi Berry serving as advisory counsel, faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Yates and his wife, 24-year-old Cassandra Yates, were at a neighbor's apartment on the night of her murder, when the neighbor left the room to take a phone call. The neighbor reported hearing a pop, and when she came out of the bedroom, she found Cassandra Yates bleeding on her floor. The neighbor testified that Yates cleaned his gun, wiped down her apartment and made her delete information from her phone before he fled the scene.
He was arrested with a gun early the next morning at an empty townhouse less than a mile from the scene of his wife's murder. In the years since his arrest, Yates' competency was called into question more than once, and he spent nearly a year in the jail's restoration to competency program.
Yates is also facing another first-degree murder charge, in connection with the April 2019 beating and strangulation death of his Pima County jail cellmate, Branden Roth. Roth was in jail waiting sentencing on a theft charge. A status conference has been set for Feb. 18 to set a trial date in that case.
“I’m not going to feed you lies like the prosecutor did," Yates said in his closing. "I’m going to tell you all the truth. They don’t have any facts.”
Yates told the jury that none of the state's nine witnesses saw him shoot his wife; two of the police witnesses admitted that details in their reports were incorrect; and that the state's ballistic expert couldn't match the bullet that killed Cassandra to the gun he had at the time of his arrest, only the shell casing at the crime scene.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than two hours before handing down their verdict. Several of Cassandra Yates' family members exhaled loudly, breaking into tears as the verdict was read.
Yates is scheduled for sentencing on March 23.