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6:12 PM Mon, Oct. 15th

Pinal County murder case dismissed due to lack of evidence

After spending the last four years in jail awaiting trial for murder, 58-year-old Arturo Jimenez of Eloy quietly said "thank you" when a Superior Court judge on Friday granted a prosecution motion to dismiss murder and burglary charges due to a lack of evidence. (Pinal County Sheriff's Office)

After spending the last four years in jail awaiting trial for murder, 58-year-old Arturo Jimenez of Eloy quietly said "thank you" when a Superior Court judge on Friday granted a prosecution motion to dismiss murder and burglary charges due to a lack of evidence. (Pinal County Sheriff's Office)

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — After spending the last four years in jail awaiting trial for murder, a 58-year-old Pinal County saw his case dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Arturo Jimenez of Eloy quietly said "thank you" when a Superior Court judge on Friday granted a prosecution motion to dismiss murder and burglary charges, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported .

The case stemmed from the 2009 killing of 92-year-old Norberto Castro, who was fatally beaten with a baseball bat at his Eloy home.

Prosecutor Gary Husk said DNA evidence that was the basis for the 2013 indictment of Jimenez was later shown to be flawed. The case investigators no longer work for the Eloy Police Department and have credibility issues.

Husk said authorities don't really know who killed Castro so it would be a "travesty" to try and prosecute Jimenez without restarting the investigation from scratch.

Judge Joseph Georgini dismissed the charges against Jimenez without prejudice, which means that charges can be refiled if new evidence is found.

Eloy Police Chief Chris Vasquez said his department will keep an open mind about the case and go wherever the facts lead.

Arizona Department of Corrections records indicate Jimenez was released from prison after serving a sentence for criminal trespassing about a week before Castro's body was discovered.

Husk handled the case as a special prosecutor for the Navajo County Attorney's Office, which took over the case because the 2016 election of the Pinal County attorney, a former defense attorney, created a conflict that meant his office couldn't keep the case.