Legal Ethics

Ariz. prosecutor accused of misconduct in capital murder case

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An Arizona prosecutor has been accused of misconduct in his handling of a capital murder case.

Chief Deputy Pinal County Attorney Richard Wintory allegedly had inappropriate contact with a member of the defense team and then tried to cover up the extent of that contact to the court and his superiors, the Arizona Republic reports.

The State Bar of Arizona, in a complaint filed Tuesday, accuses Wintory of making false statements of fact, being dishonest and engaging in conduct prejudicial to justice.

Wintory told the newspaper he had done nothing wrong. “I’m confident that if we get before a hearing panel and lay the facts out, they will see I had no intention to mislead anyone on this matter,” he said.

The allegations stem from a capital murder case Wintory had handled, first as a deputy Pima County attorney and later as a member of the state attorney general’s office. The defendant, an accused drug dealer named Darren Golden, had been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly hiring somebody to kill an associate. Goldin has since pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and is serving an 11-year prison sentence.

The bar complaint alleges that Wintory had several conversations with a former defense consultant that he kept secret from his superiors. When his superiors became aware of the communications, it says, Wintory was taken off the case.

“While it is plausible that respondent did not know that his initial conversation with the (consultant) was inappropriate, he continued to engage in such communications, even after the court raised concerns,” the complaint says.

Wintory told the newspaper he had no reason to want to conceal his contact with the consultant. “I’m at a loss at how this kind of honest misunderstanding rises to the level where we are accusing each other of lying,” he said.

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles couldn’t be reached for comment, the Republic reports.

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