As Robin Hay lay nearly decapitated in a pool of blood on the floor of the Marana eegees on March 26, 2000, no alert tones went out over Marana Police Department radios to signify a critical incident, and officers say it would take at least six minutes after a 911 call before the wail of sirens from responding officers would break the early Sunday morning quiet.
The MPD dispatcher who took the report from a "hysterical" delivery driver who discovered the body of the eegees assistant manager inside the restaurant at 7110 N. Thornydale Road, allegedly decided to wait and notify officers who were going through the morning's briefing, rather than immediately broadcasting the call over the radio.
"(The dispatcher's) response was just unbelievable," said one MPD officer who was close to the investigation, and who asked for anonymity because he feared retaliation from MPD Chief David R. Smith. "There were no alert tones, no broadcast, no nothing. It took six minutes for her to get a response going, and then she did it by phoning the officers who were in briefing."
The severity of the wounds Hay sustained in the attack make doubtful any claims that a faster response would have saved her life. But the allegedly sloppy handling of the call foreshadowed even more problems to come.
The Hay case, after going through a series of investigative fits and starts that took a year for any charges to be filed, culminated in the Pima County Attorney's Office withdrawing first degree murder charges against the MPD's prime suspect May 29.
The suspect, self-professed Satanist and white supremacist Jason Doty, has already been convicted of two separate first degree murder charges in two separate killings that occurred around the same time as Hay's murder.
The other two cases that secured convictions against Doty occurred in the county's jurisdiction and were investigated by the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
Prosecutors said they withdrew the charge against Doty for Hay's death that was investigated by MPD because more evidence was needed. The murder remains unsolved to this day.
Some officers point to the Hay case as just another example of ineptitude and poor training that has characterized just about every high-profile case that has fallen upon the Marana Police Department during Smith's 11-year administration.
Others place the blame on Smith's long-time policy of rotating detective positions every three years among officer's drawn from the patrol division.
The three year cap prevents the development of an experienced detective cadre in the department.
MPD spokesman Sgt. Tim Brunenkant said the three year rotations apply to all special details in the department, including assignments to the state's gang task force, or the auto theft prevention detail.
Whether due to inexperience or ineptitude, there's little doubt that Marana, which rarely sees more than one or two murders a year, has a history of criminal investigations rife with problems:
A string of multi-million dollar lawsuits were filed in 1996 and 1997 against the MPD, the state's Child Protective Services, the Avra Valley Fire District and other agencies by the relatives of 5-year-old Donovan Hendrix. Donovan died April 22, 1996, two weeks after being beaten by his father's girlfriend, Betty Jean Armstrong. Donovan's death grabbed headlines and prompted legislative changes in how the state handles child abuse reports after it was revealed that the child endured at least two and a half years of abuse at the hands of Armstrong without any intervention by police, paramedics or state case workers who responded to Donovan's home. The suits charged that Marana police officers and Avra Valley paramedics failed to alert CPS to obvious signs of abuse and neglect. In a June 1996 interview with the Arizona Daily Star, Smith incorrectly insisted that police agencies were not required by law to report signs of abuse and neglect to CPS.
Jurors deadlocked on charges of attempted murder against Christina George, but convicted her of two counts of aggravated assault for shooting and wounding 25-year-old Jasmine Holland April 18, 2001 at a Quality Inn Motel in Marana. Investigators believe the shooting was an attempt to silence Holland, who had provided police with information about a methamphetamine distribution ring. Charges against Floyd Lewis Foster, who allegedly participated in the shooting of Holland in the Marana motel, were dropped after Holland was murdered on Tucson's southwest side in July 2001. Police say Holland would have been the key witness against Foster in the Marana shooting.
Despite the murder occurring before a crowd of witnesses at the New West/Gotham nightclub July 4, 2001, jurors deadlocked and a mistrial was declared during the November 2001 trial of Rudolph Arenas, who shot and killed Jesus Antonio Montano and wounded two men after an argument in the bar's parking lot. County prosecutors were able to secure a second degree murder charge conviction against Arenas in a second trial, and he was sentenced in February to 49 years in prison.
Also at the New West/Gotham, prosecutors failed to charge anyone with the death of 23-year-old Westyn Hamilton, who died Jan. 2 2000 while struggling with the bar's bouncers. Pima County's medical examiner ruled the death an accident despite 54 cuts, scrapes and abrasions found on Hamilton's body, and said he relied substantially on information from the MPD's investigation of the struggle.
Last year, one detective told the Northwest EXPLORER that they simply couldn't prove the case.
"Look, Hamilton was no angel, not by a long shot," said one of the four Marana detectives who worked the Hamilton case. "He went in there and he was acting like an a------, getting into a fight, fighting with the bouncers. But do I think that the bouncers were just simply trying to gently restrained him? No. He fired off on that employee and they kicked his ass. But who are you going to charge in that? Answer me that. Out of all those guys involved in it, how do you prove that this is the person that's responsible for Hamilton's death?"
On March 21, 2001, the New West/Gotham agreed to pay a reported $1 million to Hamilton's family to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. Two days later, the town of Marana agreed to pay $15,000 to Hamilton's survivors to settle claims of negligence made against police officers who responded to the altercation.
The MPD still considers Doty a suspect in the murder of Hay, and prosecutors have said they hope to refile charges in the case. Doty remains in Pima County Jail awaiting sentencing for the first degree murder of Joe McDowell, a passenger who was killed when a vehicle allegedly driven by Doty crashed while being pursued by police, and for the first degree murder of Tohono Chul Park security guard Grady Towers. Both deaths occurred in March and April of 2000.
The quality of the investigation of the Hay case also raises questions as to whether other participants in the 50-year-old woman's murder remain on the street today.
According to the Pima County Superior Court file, prosecutors claim a man who once shared a prison cell with Doty, 22-year-old Bryan William David Sicard, may have been one of two men captured on a security camera near the eegees just minutes before Hay was killed.
The camera, located in a Walgreens near the eegees, captured the image of two men dressed in dark clothing and hats outside the drug store at 5:27 a.m., just minutes before Hay was murdered.
Investigators later seized Sicard's car and found dark clothing and a hat with an emblem similar to the one captured on the video tape. They also noted Sicard had a distinctive walk that matched one of the men seen on the tape, according to court records.
Earlier this year, MPD detective Tim Brunenkant confirmed to the Tucson Citizen that Sicard was a suspect in the Hay murder, along with Doty.
In June, MPD spokesman Bill Derfus told the Northwest EXPLORER Brunenkant's statements to the Citizen had been "retracted."
"We cannot confirm that Bryan Sicard is a suspect, or comment on the ongoing investigation. Those statement's have been retracted," Derfus said.
The dispatcher who allegedly mishandled the call when Hay's body was discovered has since resigned from the Marana Police Department.
Although two members of the MPD have identified the dispatcher, the Northwest EXPLORER has chosen not to release her name because it has been unable to obtain corroborating documents from the MPD.
The department refused a public records request for a transcript of the tape of the call, claiming it's part of the investigation still ongoing in the Hay case.
The dispatcher resigned after she was suspended for three days in September for failing to dispatch officers in an unrelated case.
In that case, a man disoriented by an apparent drug overdose and reported missing by his wife, called 911 repeatedly for help Aug. 9 and was told to "stop calling" by the dispatcher, according to an MPD internal investigation report.
Oro Valley police, who had received the initial missing person report, intervened after tracing the cellular calls to the area of Thornydale and Tangerine roads and located the man.
The dispatcher, interviewed last month, said she did nothing wrong in the case and was being harassed by her supervisor.