FLORENCE — Mark Tapia, of Casa Grande, sits in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.

On Monday, the 38-year-old Tapia asked for a lower bond amount so he could get out of jail, but instead he got more warnings from the judge.

During a release modification hearing, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Patrick Gard maintained his Nov. 20 declaration that Tapia is non-bondable.

According to Detective Dave Linehan of the Casa Grande Police Department, Tapia was arrested in January for domestic violence aggravated assault of his wife and four children.

He was released from jail and was staying at his parents’ house but he continued to contact his children and wife. He is accused by state prosecutors of writing a letter to his family from the jail.

He was under an order of protection not to contact them.

Tapia allegedly attempted to take two of the children off a school bus on Oct. 28 despite the order of protection and police were called. The children were taken to the nurse’s office and Tapia left the area. He is also accused of emailing his wife that same morning despite the court order, according to Linehan.

He said Tapia made suicidal statements in the email. He later made suicidal statements to police and was taken to a hospital for evaluation in mid-October. On Oct. 31, he made contact with his wife in the parking lot where she worked.

After a short conversation with him, she left and police found Tapia walking a few blocks from their house.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney James Soslowsky got the detective to admit that the locations where Tapia was located are not listed on the protection order as protected areas.

Linehan said neither child had verbal contact with their father and he was 60 to 80 feet away. He also said that Tapia requested contact only with the younger child at the school and that child is not listed on the protection order.

Tapia was being held in jail pending the posting of a $50,000 secured bond until being declared non-bondable by Gard on Nov. 20.

Tapia continues to write letters to his family despite court orders and the state continues to file charges on him for writing them.

“If you haven’t figured it out at this time, they’re going to charge you with more counts, tie you up and put you in prison for years,” Gard told Tapia. “Every time you send a letter. Every time you make a phone call. You just don’t get it. It is a violation of my orders. You are only making it worse for yourself. I will tell you for the third and final time. Don’t contact the victims.”

Tapia is scheduled to appear for a status conference on Jan. 6. The original case is set for trial on Feb. 25 though it will not likely be held at that time.

Sentences for murder, shooting on GRIC

PHOENIX — A 34-year-old Casa Grande man was sentenced for a 2018 murder on the Gila River Indian Community.

On Nov. 18, Timothy Wayne Lewis Jr. was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan M. Brnovich to 17½ years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. The defendant pleaded guilty on May 20 to second-degree murder.

On Sept. 26, 2018, the defendant shot and killed the victim. The murder took place on the Gila River Indian Community, and the victim was a Gila River tribal member. Lewis is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raynette Logan, who is based in Phoenix.

  • PHOENIX — A 36-year-old Florence man was sentenced to eight years in prison following his guilty plea to the 2018 shooting of another man with a shotgun on the Gila River Indian Community

On Nov. 25, Michael Joseph Davis was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dominic W. Lanza to eight years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The defendant pleaded guilty on Aug. 12 to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

On Oct. 7, 2018, the defendant shot the victim three times with a shotgun, causing serious bodily injury, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release. The shooting took place on the Gila River Indian Community, and both the defendant and victim are Gila River tribal members.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Raynette Logan, who is based in Phoenix.

Darr sentence delayed

FLORENCE — A Maricopa mother who pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse was not sentenced Monday after character witnesses failed to appear in court.

Erin Darr, 36, was scheduled to be sentenced at Pinal County Superior Court by Judge Christopher O’Neil, but when character witnesses did not show, the defense asked for a 30-day continuance.

O’Neil was perturbed by the request, saying he had more than enough evidence to move forward with or without people speaking on Darr’s behalf.

“I have spent hours reviewing materials for today’s hearing,” said O’Neil, adding that included several letters written by people speaking to Darr’s character.

Ultimately, O’Neil agreed to a compromise. Instead of granting the defense’s request to move the sentencing into January, he set a sentencing hearing for Dec. 18.

That hearing date was in accordance with a request from the prosecution, which asked if the date were to be continued that it be sometime before the end of the calendar year.

Darr’s defense attorney said he wanted “people to understand who she is” before a sentence was rendered. He said that couldn’t be achieved unless her character witnesses were allowed to speak.

Darr, accused of forcing a child to eat vomit, was initially charged with 10 counts of child abuse and was arrested last December. Her trial was scheduled to begin Nov. 5.

Court records show Darr pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse Sept. 18.

— Brian Wright, Staff Writer

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