FLORENCE — After more than seven years, the first-degree murder charge against Bryan Shaw is in the hands of a Pinal County Superior Court jury.
Shaw is accused of killing his estranged wife, Denise Padilla-Shaw, on Aug. 26, 2012. Prosecutors say he shot her in the face and beat her lover, Leslie Castillo, with a baseball bat early that morning in Coolidge.
Padilla-Shaw's 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.
Shaw's defense team offered no testimony and did not present any evidence in his defense at his trial that concluded Thursday afternoon.
Instead they simply attempted to shoot holes in prosecutors' evidence at every step of the two-week trial.
Closing arguments wrapped up the trial on Thursday and the jury began deliberations. The jury hearing the case had seven women and six men, including one alternate.
Before the closing arguments began Thursday, defense attorneys Bret Huggins and Josh Wallace and prosecutors went over final jury instructions in a hearing before closing arguments.
Defense attorneys moved for an acquittal when the state rested its case Thursday morning.
Judge Delia Neal denied the motion to acquit Shaw and the defense rested, saying that the defendant would not testify.
Instructions were given to the jury at 10:23 a.m. and the state made its closing arguments over the next hour.
Deputy County Attorney Shawn Jensvold presented the closing argument for the state.
“The reality the defendant refuses to accept — this picture of Leslie and Denise shows that reality. The reality is that Denise was done and moving to file for divorce. Denise had told Bryan (Shaw) multiple times that they were finished. He wouldn't accept that,” Jensvold told the jury.
Jensvold told the jury that the victim even told Shaw that the source of their problems was not her new relationship with someone else.
“He refused to accept the reality that Denise was done with him as her husband. More importantly he couldn't accept that he was to blame. His violence, his anger you see in his text messages. He focused his anger on 'that bitch, Leslie.' He couldn't accept the fact that Denise was now in a relationship with another person. He smashed Leslie's face with a baseball bat repeatedly and took Denise out of the house, drove her out and shot her somewhere else and dumped her body along Picacho Lake in a Rugrats blanket that belonged to one of Denise's kids. Only the defendant is responsible for these actions,” Jensvold said.
Jensvold used Shaw's text messages to the victim as evidence in the case. He said the messages show how Shaw's anger built and built for two weeks before the murder.
Jensvold explained the timeline of the crime to the jury to establish Shaw's premeditation of the murder.
“Who's got the motive in this case is sitting right there,” Jensvold told the jury as he pointed at Shaw. “Did the defendant have the opportunity to do this crime? The cellphone records say yes,” he said.
Jensvold called the defense team strategies in the trial nothing more than “flimsy conspiracy theories.”
“There are no perfect investigations because there are no perfect investigators. No case is perfect. The evidence presented in this case is overwhelming,” Jensvold said.
Defense attorney Wallace claimed it was a case of misidentification and bad police investigation.
“This is the most important day in Mr. Shaw's Life. Fortunately, we are in the United States. The worst thing that can happen is for an innocent man to be found guilty of a crime he did not do. Mr. Shaw is entitled to a presumption of innocence. He is innocent until proven guilty. The burden and the standard. The burden falls on the government — proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wallace said.
He said Shaw did not have to prove a single thing. The burden of proof is on the state.
Wallace showed the jury the burden of proof jury instruction they had already received.
He said if there is a possibility that Shaw is innocent, then they must return a verdict of not guilty.
“Our system is set up to make sure a person is not convicted of a crime they did not commit. There is a real possibility that this identification is not reliable,” Wallace said. “The power of suggestion is extremely powerful, especially when it's coming from law enforcement.”
Wallace spoke about the lack of physical evidence against Shaw in this case.
“No murder weapon, no ammunition, no baseball bat,” Wallace said.
Wallace accused the state of “playing fast and loose” with the evidence in this case several times during his closing argument.
“Their theory doesn't make sense,” Wallace said.
Deputy County Attorney Patrick Johnson said the defense team had to do something to get the attention off their client.
“Let's blame Coolidge PD — why not,” he said “They want you to look at the mistakes they made and forgive his actions. You don't leave your common sense at the door when you go into the jury room. They want you to forgive his actions and blame other people.”
Johnson said the critical evidence was Shaw's text messages and the blood in his car. Johnson said the Coolidge Police Department is accused of planting evidence by defense attorneys.
“They flat said that,” Johnson said. “They're trying to sling mud at the Coolidge Police Department to get you to blame someone else.”
“We don't know the order or where she was killed. But that doesn't matter. He took a gun and killed her,” Johnson said. “He doesn't have to have the grand plan. He beat Leslie with that bat and he picked up that gun and killed Denise. That is premeditation because he changed instruments. He changed from a bat to a gun. It is a thought process. He reflected on what he did before he did it. Look him in the eye and find him guilty.”
Judge Neal gave final instructions to the jury at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and they began deliberations immediately.