Authorities acknowledged for the first time Monday that they believe the Barrington Estates killings in Mesa were committed to eliminate witnesses in the arson case against William Miller.
The acknowledgement came in the state’s motion to withhold names of witnesses and their statements from Miller and his attorneys.
The state is required to hand over all evidence it has against a defendant long before trial.
But prosecutor Bob Shutts said in Maricopa County Superior Court that making court documents public and giving the defense the names of witnesses would jeopardize them.
“The State is in possession of information that the murders of five individuals, including children, was the direct result of the defendant’s attempts to silence them as witnesses against him in a pending arson charge,” Shutts wrote.
Shutts wrote that forensic evidence “indicates the presence of another un-indicted conspirator.”
Defense attorney Carmen Fischer said Miller will challenge the state’s attempt to withhold the information. “A secret prosecution by the state seems offensive to the Constitution,” Fischer said.
Also on Monday, Phoenix Newspapers asked Judge James Keppel to release unredacted or less redacted versions of Miller’s “probable cause statement,” a document police prepare to justify a person’s arrest.
The probable cause statement was originally sealed, but Keppel ordered portions that wouldn’t jeopardize witnesses to be released.
Keppel then allowed a little more of the written statement to be released only to defense attorneys on March 15. Keppel said he would rule on the newspapers’ request today.
Miller was arrested March 3 and indicted on five counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 21 shootings.
The victims were Tammy Lovell, 32; her children, Cassandra Lovell, 15, and Jacob Lovell, 10; Tammy Lovell’s boyfriend, Steven Terrence Duffy II, 30, and his brother, Shane Donovan Duffy, 18.
Miller and Steven Duffy were co-defendants in an arson case involving Miller’s Scottsdale home.