Suspect in van slaying charged with murder - East Valley Tribune: News

Suspect in van slaying charged with murder

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Posted: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:21 pm | Updated: 2:42 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A 68-year-old man accused of firing several shots at a speed photo enforcement van and killing the worker inside as he was talking to his wife on the phone has been charged with first-degree murder.

Thomas Patrick Destories of Phoenix, who is in the Maricopa County Lower Buckeye Jail in lieu of $2 million bail, was charged with first-degree murder through a direct complaint filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office on Wednesday in connection with the death of Scottsdale-based Redflex Traffic Systems worker Doug Georgianni, 51, of Cave Creek, the county attorney’s office said Wednesday.

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Destories also has been charged with one count each of drive-by shooting and discharge of a firearm at a structure, according to the county attorney’s office.

About 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Destories pulled up in a 1980s model Chevrolet Suburban behind the van on the eastbound side of Loop 101 near Seventh Avenue and then rolled by a few seconds later, according to Phoenix police.

The suspect is accused of then firing five rounds at the photo enforcement van. Three of the rounds were in a tight pattern and grouped on the driver’s side front window, according to police.

Georgianni, who had worked for Redflex for three months, was behind the driver’s seat working on paperwork and was on the phone with his wife at the moment he was shot, according to Sgt. Andy Hill, spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department. A video inside the van showed Georgianni getting shot. Two witnesses stopped beside the Suburban at a light down the road and got a description of a white-haired man with a mustache who smelled like smoke.

Georgianni later was pronounced dead at John C. Lincoln Hospital. When Destories was arrested, he had ammunition on him and told police that the gun was inside the saddlebag of his motorcycle, according to court documents.

Destories claimed he did not know anyone was inside the van, and that he was sorry and planned to turn himself in to police after seeing a report of the shooting on the news, according to police.

The slaying triggered a massive manhunt and led photo radar companies to pull their manned vehicles from the road for a few days.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said during a press conference on Wednesday, “This victim was doing his job when he became the victim of a murder that the State alleges was premeditated.” Thomas added, “We will seek justice for the family of Mr. Georgianni. That task has been made easier thanks to the excellent work of officers with the Department of Public Safety and Phoenix Police Department.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Destories signed a media waiver with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and had said he would speak about the incident during a press conference.

However, a public defender from the Maricopa County Office of Public Defenders arrived at the jail prior to Destories’ scheduled time to speak to the media and advised him not to.

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