During the homicide investigation of Arizona State University student Zachary Marco, his father, Daniel Marco, who is a criminal defense attorney, said that if there were two or more people involved, he would help provide the best legal defense possible to the one who came forward.
But on Tuesday, Marco, who lives in Mesa, said that deal now is "off the table."
Tempe police on Tuesday announced the arrests of two men they say are connected to the shooting death of Marco, a 21-year-old ASU student who police say was killed for his laptop computer and a cell phone last month.
On Wednesday, police said a third man also has been arrested.
About 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17, Marco was walking home when police believe he was shot while defending his property during a robbery in the 1100 block of East University Drive. Cmdr. Kim Hale, head of investigations for the Tempe Police Department, said Marco died at the scene. Witnesses had said they saw two black males running after Marco was shot.
Louis Eugene Harper, 20, was arrested two weeks ago at his Tempe home north of Broadway Road on suspicion of forgery offenses in an unrelated matter. Marion Anthony Patterson III, 17, was arrested Monday night in south Tempe after a brief foot chase. Police say Harper is the one who pulled the trigger and 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.
During Tuesday's press conference, Tempe police said Harper and Patterson were the only ones involved and there were no other suspects.
However, on Wednesday, Tempe police said that three arrests had been made in connection to Marco's death, but were not releasing the third person's name, citing concerns for his safety.
Both Harper and Patterson face charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery. Both men also are known gang members and both have criminal histories, according to police.
After executing search warrants, police confiscated cell phones containing text messages in which the two men discussed robberies they had committed, police said.
Then, on Oct. 29, detectives recovered Marco's 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.
"My son's life was taken for nothing," said Daniel Marco, who became emotional during a news conference also attended by Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff. "The items they took were worth nothing. No one came forward, so the deal I had is off the table. To the young men who did this, I told you so. Now, I remain resolved like the police to see to it that you spend the rest of your days in prison and all that that comes with it."
Marco's father had first thanked police for their diligence in investigating the crime.
"We never wavered in our support of this investigation," he said. "I knew this day would come - I didn't think it would happen this quick. It was an amazing investigation. Now, when people recognize me on the street, they don't recognize me as the father whose son was killed, they recognize me as the father whose son was killed for a laptop and a cell phone. There's a lot of work to be done. There will never be closure. If it were a wound, it would be a wound that would never heal. It's raw."
Marco, who was a junior honors student at ASU, 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.
Hale said Tuesday that when investigators looked over a few items of evidence that were of very little value that someone was killed for, they knew that they had to solve the murder.
"That kept us going," said Hale, who added there is still a lot of work to be done in the investigation. "This is just the beginning."
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, who also spoke during the press conference, was quick to say that observant neighbors and friends are part of the solution to helping prevent or solve such crimes.
"Police talk about months of the investigation, but it was four weeks," Hallman said. "It only seemed like months."
The news of the arrests come a day before Marco's family, friends and some of his ASU instructors will hold a vigil from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the courtyard of ASU's Barrett Honors College, 751 E. Lemon Street, between Apache Trail and University Drive, marking the first month since Marco's death. His younger sister, Michelle, 15, will perform a song she composed for her brother. The Marco family is organizing a foundation for college students who plan to enter the legal profession or politics as well as to help people who need help paying for funeral expenses for a loved one who is killed in a tragedy.
Daniel Marco also said when he offered to help the person with the best legal defense for turning in the person responsible for his son's death, he received a lot criticism.
"I just had something to say about that," Marco said. "That was my son."