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This month we feature a write up regarding the many things you will find in the archives at Arizona State Archives, part of the Arizona State Library, Archives, & Public Records department with the State of Arizona related to true crime from Carlos Lopez, Archivist at the Arizona State Archives and Vice President of AzAA. We thank Carlos for providing this deep dive into the true crime archives at the state archive and continuing this wonderful overview of the many interesting (and weird) items the Arizona State Archives has in its collection.
As the weather heats up in Arizona this time of year, most people look to find a way to occupy themselves indoors. With the windows closed and the AC cranked, one of the things people love to do is immerse themselves in the world of True Crime. Whether reading a riveting account of crime investigations, listening to a podcast detailing salacious details, or watching a documentary summarizing an unbelievable crime, people are engrossed by scandalous and infamous crimes. Many of the staff at the Arizona State Archives are also fans of such entertainment. Luckily for us, we get to spend some time with the primary sources for these stories.
The Arizona State Archives (one part of the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records) serves as the official repository of the State of Arizona’s permanent and historically valuable records. Because of this, we receive records from a variety of places that deal with major crimes. From the courts to the Attorney General’s office, the Board of Executive Clemency (for death row cases) to the Arizona State Legislature (for political high crimes and misdemeanors), the state archives is host to many a lurid tale of crime and punishment. Here are just a few sets or cases from our collections:
Karl and Walter LaGrand
Karl and Walter LaGrand, two German nationals living in Arizona, were tried and convicted of killing a man during a failed robbery in Marana, Arizona. For their crime, they were both sentenced to death. As foreign nationals, the LaGrands should have been informed of their right to assistance by the German consulate. The State Arizona failed to do so, even after learning that they were not US citizens. After the LaGrand’s execution, the German government sued the United States and Arizona through the International Court of Justice. The ICJ ruled that the United States and Arizona had violated the Vienna Convention of 1963. Included in the LaGrand Collection of the Board of Executive Clemency are letters from German nationals asking for the death penalty to be overturned.
The AzScam case
Few cases have shaped Arizona politics like the AzScam case. AzScam was a sting operation that caught lawmakers taking cash bribes on camera from phony casino operators pitching to legalize gambling in the state. After this exhaustive investigation from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, seven prominent Arizona legislators, Rep. Sue Laybe (D-Central Phoenix), Rep. Jim Hartdegen (R-Casa Grande), Rep. Jim Meredith (R-East Phoenix), Rep. Bobby Raymond (D-West Phoenix), Rep. Don Kenney (R-Northwest Phoenix), Sen. Carolyn Walker (D-South Phoenix) and Sen. Jesus ”Chuy” Higuera (D-Tucson), as well as seven other political figures were indicted on charges of bribery, money laundering and filing false election statements. Many of those indicted were sentenced to jail time, and all were expelled or resigned from the legislature. Included in our collections are videocassettes and transcripts of the sting operation, as well as testimony from the expulsion hearings in the legislature.
The Ray Krone Case
Ray Krone spent 10 years in prison, including two years on death row, after being found guilty of killing a bartender acquaintance of his in Phoenix in 1991. Krone’s conviction was mainly due to an expert witness from a dentist that claimed his teeth marks matched those found on the witness. Despite no other evidence linking Krone to the crime scene, he was convicted, and an appeal denied. Through the Innocence Project, DNA evidence absolved Krone and he was released, later collecting millions from Maricopa County. Included in our collection are five exhibit boxes and 176 large exhibits from the case.