The sentencing of Devin Almejo, a Mesa man who hired an undercover cop as a hitman to kill his grandfather, will be announced directly after the aggravation and mitigation hearing is heard on May 8.
In November 2013, Mr. Almejo posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a gun to kill his grandfather whom he had been living with at the time.
“The messier the better,” the ad stated, according to court records.
An undercover police officer posing as a person interested in selling a gun proceeded to call, text and meet up with Mr. Almejo at a grocery store in Mesa where they sat in a vehicle and discussed the details.
The undercover officer offered a MAC-10 pistol to Mr. Almejo, who then stated that he wanted the gun, according to the probable cause statement.
The undercover police officer recognized that Mr. Almejo was inexperienced with guns and offered to kill the grandfather for him. Mr. Almejo agreed and offered the undercover police officer an iPad, an iPod and a year’s worth of free haircuts in exchange for the murder, according to the court documents.
The probable cause statement states that the undercover police officer gave Mr. Almejo three opportunities to walk away from the murder, but each time Mr. Almejo stated that he was “good with the murder.”
Upon investigating, the police discovered a Facebook post made by Mr. Almejo where a picture showed a hand that appeared to be covered with what looked like blood with a caption proclaiming that he had killed his grandfather even though he did not, according to the probable cause statement.
Mr. Almejo pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Nearly a year and a half later, Mr. Almejo awaits his sentence, which was scheduled to take place at the Maricopa County Supreme Court in Phoenix on Monday April 6.
Mr. Almejo’s attorney, Kenneth Countryman, requested in court on April 6that the sentencing be pushed for 30 more days in order to provide the court with more documents to use for a mitigation hearing, which could possibly reduce the severity of Mr. Almejo’s sentence.
“I don’t want to waive time. No more,” stated Mr. Almejo in court after being strongly advised by Mr. Countryman not to say so.
After a quick discussion with Mr. Almejo, Mr. Countryman told presiding Judge Sam Myers that he was willing to go on with Mr. Almejo’s sentencing since it is what Mr. Almejo wanted despite of his advice to await the sentence and instead extend it.
Despite Mr. Almejo strongly indicating that he wished to be sentenced then and there, the state counsel requested an aggravation hearing.
An aggravation hearing is a phase in court where the state will have the opportunity to enhance the severity of Mr. Almejo’s sentence by providing Judge Myers with reasons and evidence to do so.
The mitigation hearing, which is what Mr. Countryman had originally requested a motion of continuance for, goes hand in hand with the aggravation hearing. At this time, Mr. Countryman will be offered the opportunity to persuade Judge Myers to give Mr. Almejo a less harsh sentence.
Judge Myers approved the motion for continuance in order to allow for an aggravation and mitigation hearing. Mr. Almejo’s sentencing will follow directly after this hearing on May 8.
“He’s just tired. He’s got some mental health issues,” said Mr. Countryman about Mr. Almejo as he exited the courthouse on April 6.
He’s on and off medications and sometimes he doesn’t make the right decisions, added Mr. Countryman in regards to Mr. Almejo’s comments in court about not wanting to waive time for mitigation.
Mr. Almejo stated that he wanted to kill his grandfather because he had been mentally, physically and emotionally abused by his grandfather, according to the probable cause statement.
Editor’s note: Dylan Foy is a journalism student at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and wrote the article as a class assignment.