One of two men involved in the shooting death of 21-year-old Arizona State University honors student Zachary Marco who killed him over his laptop computer and cell phone is facing up to 19 years in prison for the crime.
Marion Anthony Patterson III, 18, entered into a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in Maricopa County Superior Court Friday. The plea was accepted Monday, and he is scheduled to be sentenced April 10.
About 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2010, Patterson, then 17, was with Louis Eugene Harper, 20, when police say they robbed Marco who was walking along the 1100 block of East University Drive in Tempe near the ASU campus after an evening of studying in the school’s library. Police believed that Marco was shot while defending his property.
Harper, who police say pulled the trigger, and Patterson, were originally charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery.
Harper remains charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery, and is next scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on March 9.
Twelve days after Marco was shot, detectives recovered his computer bag and found fingerprints from both Harper and Patterson, police said. Citizens came forward and alerted police to the evidence, but police would not say where the bag was recovered. After executing search warrants, police confiscated cell phones containing text messages in which the two men discussed robberies they had committed, police said.
A month after the shooting, Harper was arrested at his Tempe home north of Broadway Road on suspicion of forgery offenses in an unrelated matter. Patterson, then 17, was arrested soon after Harper in south Tempe after a brief foot chase. Police say that both men were in the neighborhood that night looking for someone to rob. Investigators said Marco was minding his own business and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Marco, who was a junior honor student at ASU and a 2008 graduate of Mesa’s Red Mountain High School where he played football, wrestled and ran cross country and track, was taking political science classes and planned to follow in his family’s footsteps and practice law. He was selected for a second round of interviews among 50 applicants to be an intern with the U.S. Senate after the selection process was pared down from 300.
Marco’s father, Daniel Marco, a former defense attorney who now represents victims of crime, was present in the courtroom with his family and some of Zach’s friends on Friday when Patterson entered his plea. Marco said he was satisfied with the stipulations in the plea agreement.
“Would I like to see him go to prison forever?,” Marco said Tuesday. “Yes. But, according to the case file, the prosecutors know what they are doing and I have the same confidence in them that I did with the Tempe police in investigating the crime. My position is, that he (Patterson) represents to me, is that this was the preliminary bout in a championship fight. We have the main event to go, yet. The remaining defendant (Harper) is the focus.”
A day after announcing the arrests of Harper and Patterson, Tempe police also confirmed that a third arrest had been made in connection to Marco’s death, but have not released the third person’s name, citing concerns for his safety.
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