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Sun, Nov. 28

Arizona in Brief: Arizona reports 2,529 additional COVID cases, 32 more deaths

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona on Thursday reported 2,529 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 32 more deaths as the state’s pandemic totals increased to 1,111,359 cases and 20,282 deaths.

The Department of Health Service’s dashboard also reported that 1,762 virus patients occupied hospital beds as of Wednesday as COVID-19-related hospitalizations hovered below 1,800 for the 12th straight day.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, Arizona’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks, increasing from 2,420.6 on Sept. 21 to 2,570.1 on Tuesday.

The rolling average of daily deaths dropped from 46.4 to 41.6 during the same period.

2 dead, several others injured after Arizona freeway crash

CASA GRANDE AP) — Two people are dead and several others injured after a fiery crash Wednesday on Interstate 10 north of Casa Grande, authorities said.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials said the crash involved three semi-trucks and several other vehicles.

They said one a semi-truck crossed through the freeway’s dirt median into oncoming traffic and crashed into two other big rigs.

One semi-truck burst into flames and the other two rolled over, according to DPS officials who said several vehicles then crashed into the big rigs.

Two people were declared dead on the scene and several others were taken to area hospitals for treatment of undisclosed injuries, authorities said.

Ruling: Victims can’t refuse pretrial talk with prosecution

PHOENIX (AP) — An appellate court decision says Arizona’s state constitutional protections for crime victims don’t prevent prosecutors from conducting pretrial interviews of victims who object.

The Court of Appeals’ ruling Tuesday said the Constitution’s Victim’s Bill of Rights allows victims to refuse pretrial interviews with defendants or defense lawyers, but the court said that right of refusal does not extend to interviews or depositions with the prosecution.

The court issued its ruling in a Yavapai County case involving a woman who is awaiting trial on a charge of luring a minor for sexual exploitation after allegedly sending a “suggestive photo” to a boy who was 14 years old at the time.

The boy initially told prosecutors that he and the woman exchanged sexually explicit texts and photos, but he later declined to meet with prosecutors to prepare for his trial testimony. According to the ruling, the boy also said through his attorney that he would characterize certain evidence in a way more favorable to the woman than previously reported.

Yuma County woman faces new election law charge

YUMA (AP) — A Yuma County woman who was indicted last year for illegally returning four voted mail-in ballots that were not hers is facing three new felony charges.

The Arizona attorney general’s office announced Tuesday that Guillermina Fuentes was indicted for voting another person’s early ballot in the August 2020 primary election. She was charged with conspiracy, forgery and a ballot abuse count.

Fuentes, 65, a Democrat, is a former mayor of the border city of San Luis. She serves as an elected board member of the Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis.

Calls seeking comment from her attorney in the earlier case, Anne Chapman, were not immediately returned.

The new indictment alleges that Fuentes obtained and voted another person’s early ballot and forged their signature.

She and another San Luis woman were indicted in December on one count each of ballot abuse for returning four voted early ballots that did not belong to her or a family member in the 2020 primary election. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The Legislature passed the ban on so-called ballot harvesting in 2016. It bars anyone but a caregiver or family member from returning a mail ballot and carries a presumptive sentence of a year in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in a ruling released in July.

Suspect claims self defense in fatal shooting in Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) — A man has been fatally shot in downtown Phoenix and the suspect is claiming self-defense, authorities said.

Officers responded to the shooting Tuesday around 3:15 a.m. and reported finding a man dead, police said. The man was later identified as 28-year-old Pete Barnett-Gearhart.

Police said the suspect remained on scene and cooperated with investigators. The man told police that he shot Barnett-Gearhart in self-defense after a fight. The suspect’s name and age were not immediately released by authorities.

Police said they will submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review to see if any charges are forthcoming.

No further information was immediately made available.

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