FLORENCE — After nearly eight years, the first-degree murder trial of Bryan Shaw finally began in Pinal County Superior Court Tuesday.

Shaw is accused of killing his estranged wife, Denise Padilla-Shaw, on Aug. 26, 2012. He is accused by prosecutors of shooting her in the face and beating her lover with a baseball bat early that morning in Coolidge.

Her body was found the following day by Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies wrapped in a blanket and left in the Picacho Reservoir area south of Coolidge.

A jury of seven women and six men was seated Tuesday morning after Monday’s jury selection. The 13-person jury only has one alternate.

Deputy County Attorney Patrick Johnson opened the case against Shaw for prosecutors.

“She endured watching him smash her girlfriend’s face over and over and over again with a baseball bat; being forced into a car; being shot in the head by him and having her lifeless body dumped in the desert like a piece of trash. That is not the fairytale ending that Denise Padilla-Shaw dreamed of when she married this defendant. That is the nightmare ending that he made sure she got,” Johnson said to open the trial.

Johnson said there is only one person who had the “focus” and the “rage” to kill her in this brutal manner and that was Shaw.

Johnson told the jury Padilla-Shaw and Shaw were married in early 2009.

He said Padilla-Shaw was openly bisexual her entire life. In the spring and summer of 2012 the couple’s relationship fell apart and they separated. He moved out.

Johnson said Padilla-Shaw started a relationship with a woman named Leslie Castillo. In August 2012 Shaw started texting Padilla-Shaw over and over. His anger was building to the point that he became threatening, according to Johnson.

Johnson said on Aug. 25, 2012, Shaw was texting her repeatedly and she finally agreed to meet him and spend the day together. They met at 8 a.m. and spent the day together, though she spent the night with her lover, Castillo, at her home in Coolidge. Early Sunday morning, Aug. 26, Shaw drove to Coolidge where Padilla-Shaw lived, according to Johnson.

The prosecutor told the jury Shaw got to her house at 2:30 a.m. and sat outside for several hours. His anger built, according to Johnson in his opening statement.

“She was inside with someone else,” Johnson said. “About 4 a.m. he decided he had enough and broke into the house. He took a bat and hit Castillo in the face over and over until unconscious.”

Johnson told the jury Shaw took his wife, took off in her car and shot her in the head later that morning, leaving her body in the dried reservoir area south of Coolidge.

“He took her to the lake and wrapped her in a blanket and dumped her body,” Johnson told the court.

Johnson said he believed Shaw dumped her body between 5:39 and 5:45 that morning.

“Leslie (Castillo) was left at the house. He drove back to Phoenix and got there shortly after 8 a.m. He then texted his ex, ‘Babe you almost ready?’” Johnson told the jury.

Castillo woke up at the house in Coolidge at 6:33 a.m. and called 911. She told the 911 caller she had been beaten by a friend of a friend, according to Johnson in his opening statement. She was hospitalized for several days and couldn’t talk to investigators but she could write.

Three days after the alleged crime, Castillo picked Shaw out of a photo lineup as the person who beat her with a baseball bat, according to Johnson.

“No one knows where Denise is,” Johnson told the jury. “Her friends couldn’t find her.”

Padilla-Shaw’s body was found Aug. 27 by sheriff’s deputies.

“She had been shot in the head, causing almost instant death,” Johnson said. “The nightmare he made sure she got.”

In his opening statement, defense attorney Bret Huggins said the defense doesn’t dispute the death of Padilla-Shaw. He said the prosecution is saying what his client was thinking back in 2012.

“How do they know that?” Huggins asked the jury.

“They have no weapon, no motive, no ammunition and no connection to Shaw,” Huggins said. “They have no baseball bat.”

Huggins described the different levels of murder charges to the jury, first-degree, second-degree, manslaughter and aggravated assault.

Huggins said the prosecutors are jumping to a conclusion by bringing this case to trial against Shaw.

Prosecutor Shawn Jvensold called Officer Ivan Gonzalez of the Coolidge Police Department as the opening witness. In 2012 he was a street patrol officer when the homicide took place.

Gonzalez was the first on scene after Castillo called 911. He secured the scene while Castillo was attended to by another officer. She could not speak so he examined the house. He saw evidence of blood and signs of a struggle.

Castillo was transported to a hospital, and Gonzalez started talking to neighbors. He found no leads with them.

Gonzalez told the jury about the steps in the investigation into the homicide of Padilla-Shaw

Prosecutors showed the jury photographs of Castillo taken just after she was found by police. Her face was bloody and battered in the graphic images.

Photos were also taken inside the house in Coolidge and included blood all over the bedroom.

The state next began calling friends of the victim to the stand to paint a picture of what happened to Padilla-Shaw, including cleaning up inside her bloody home before her body was located.

“I realized that what I swept into a dustpan was teeth,” one witness told the jury as she sobbed on the witness stand. “I wasn’t able to do much cleaning after that.”

The trial resumes at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Shaw’s trial is expected to last two weeks with a target of closing arguments on March 6.

This wasn’t Shaw’s first run-in with law enforcement. Pinal County court records show he was found guilty earlier this year for possession of a deadly weapon.

In April 2011, he was found guilty of criminal trespassing in Coolidge Municipal Court and had assault charges dismissed in June 2010.

Shaw was also found guilty of aggravated assault in August 2001 in Maricopa County Superior Court.


Jim Headley is a reporter covering breaking news, crime and justice around Pinal County. He can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.