Former Prescott, Arizona stockbroker Steven DeMocker was found guilty two weeks ago of beating his wife to death with a golf club in the summer of 2008.
The jury found him guilty exactly five years after he was first thrown into the Yavapai County slammer in Verde Valley, Arizona. And the costs to the county, although rounded off by this reporter, are approximately $1 million.
LET’S START WITH THE JUDGE
Because of numerous conflicts of interest, none of the 10 sitting Yavapai County Court judges could hear the murder trial – one judge is the former divorce attorney for DeMocker and his dead wife, one is married to the Public Defender, one prosecuted DeMocker in his first trial which resulted in a mistrial, and some are believed to have been stockbroker customers of DeMocker’s. See http://www.examiner.com/article/murder-suspect-wants-out-of-jail-jurors-...
So the County imported retired judge Gary Donahoe from Phoenix. Donahoe was in hot water in his last days in Phoenix (Maricopa County) including allegations of bribery and other charges; the Phoenix assistant prosecutor couldn’t prove the charges and lost her license over it; her boss, the Maricopa County Prosecutor Andrew Thomas was disbarred over it and is running for Governor.
“Supreme Court Rule 123(e) limits the amount of information regarding court employees and only certain items are not closed to the public,” Yavapai Court Deputy Administrator Shelly Bacon told this reporter.
But she did disclose the following: “Judge Gary Donahoe is employed as a Retired Superior Court Judge beginning on Dec 8, 2011 and is paid an hourly rate of $13.94 per hour. Retired judges are paid the difference between their retirement rate and the current Superior Court judge rate. Total salary paid was $9808.41. Mileage, lodging and meals were $9611.12.”
In spite of this reporter’s investigation into how much DeMocker was worth, and how much money he finagled from the dead woman’s life insurance policy while still being charged with her murder, DeMocker persuaded now retired county court judge Warren Darrow to declare him indigent. See http://www.examiner.com/article/murder-suspect-may-have-been-motivated-b...
So, the Yavapai County Public Defender, Dean Trebesch, who also recused himself from the case, hired a couple of local defense attorneys.
“It took a considerable while to carefully go through the data to be certain no records were divulged which were confidential or had been sealed for some reason. While the number is not foolproof, it should be close to accurate,” Trebesch told me.
“For most of this time, we have had a Special Contract Administrator (due to my office’s ethical conflict of interest and my resultant inability to scrutinize these requests and billings). We have had three Special Contract Administrators in succession, approved by the Board, for this reason. The first was Bill Culbertson, the second was Bob Briney, and the third was Dave Stoller. The last two were paid $50 an hour while Mr. Culbertson received $40 an hour. Mr. Culbertson advised me of his inability to continue in the post after seven months, and this past June Mr. Briney suddenly passed away which lead to Mr. Stoller taking on this function recently,” said Trebesch.
For attorney’s fees, for billings processed as of October 14 (undoubtedly more are yet to arrive):
Craig Williams—for the period of his attorney involvement from October 4, 2010 to September 8, 2013 (nearly three years): $442,777.50 based on the rate of $90 an hour.
Greg Parzych—for the period of his attorney involvement from April 4, 2011 to October 1, 2013 (two and one-half years): $187,399.50 based on the rate of $85 an hour.
Cynics might say this is cheap, since some Prescott area attorneys are charging an average of about $200/hour and as high as $400 per hour.
And of course this does not include the costs of various clerk and court personnel, nor the cost of bussing DeMocker from the Verde jail to the Prescott courthouse, or the cost of the sheriff’s deputies paid to ride along and escort DeMocker. Nor does it include the salaries of county sheriff’s investigators, their witnesses, or the forensic testifiers leading up to the indictment, or their testimonial time. And it does not include Prescott ambulance or Police costs; remember, the man living in the murdered woman’s guesthouse committed suicide within Prescott P.D.’s jurisdiction. Suicide, if one believes the police report obtained by this reporter showing multiple gunshot wounds and multiple caliber bullets found by Prescott P.D. in his apartment.
THE COSTS OF INCARCERATION
Total costs of the DeMocker case include the average yearly jail costs for an inmate in America which range from $17,000 to $47,000 (which is California’s costs if you include health care for an inmate), which would mean that during the five years DeMocker has been incarcerated, Yavapai County spent about $85,000 to $95,000 to house and feed him. Arizona’s average yearly cost for a prison inmate is $24,850, but that’s based on figures from the Florence Prison and not the Verde county jail.
For more on the story see Authorhouse’s new book: Murder by Guile, which is now on e-book and text-to-voice.
LOOKING AHEAD; THE COUNTY WANTS A NEW PRISON
County leadership says it wants an upgraded jail. Prisons are big business of course, when they are run privately and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been making waves throughout Arizona because they want in on the Yavapai pie. CCA designs, builds, manages and operates correctional facilities and detention centers on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Marshals Service, nearly half of all states and nearly a dozen counties across the country.
Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation has been working to get a new CCA jail with or without help from large property owner Fain Signature Group. At press time CCA was not done with those efforts.
CCA has been criticized by the media even though they continue to operate prisons cheaper than the state. For instance, a September investigative report by The Center for Media and Democracy described some strange prison bedfellows: Mark Brnovich, a former Corrections Corporation of America "senior director of business development" and lobbyist is planning to run for the office of Arizona's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General. According to statements of financial disclosure filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections by Brnovich's wife, former Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner and current Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan Brnovich, Mark Brnovich served as a "senior director of business development" for CCA during the course of 2005, 2006 and 2007.
The GEO Group from Florida also operates three Arizona prisons.
DeMocker will be formally sentenced soon and his first attorney, John Sears, is being investigated on ethical grounds by the state bar association. DeMocker began his appeal yesterday. So, the costs to Arizona, over State v. DeMocker, are not yet fully tabulated.