PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Wednesday evening its intent to seek the death penalty if the man accused of murdering a Maricopa County deputy is convicted of first-degree murder.
"Seeking the death penalty is the most serious decision entrusted to the County Attorney," said interim County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. "On Oct. 9, 2021, Deputy Juan Ruiz was simply doing his job and he paid the ultimate price trying to keep our community safe. This office will seek justice for Deputy Ruiz and his family."
MCAO's notice of intent notes Clinton Hurley's list of previous charges — including two counts of attempted molestation of a child, one count of robbery, two counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault, and four attempts to commit armed robbery — cruelty in relation to Ruiz's death, committing the offense while on probation for a felony offense and the fact that Ruiz was a peace officer, killed in the line of duty.
Hurley allegedly attacked and killed MCSO deputy Juan "Johnny" Ruiz while attempting to escape custody on Oct. 9, 2021.
Officials say Hurley was being processed on felony warrants when he attacked Ruiz at a substation. Sheriff Paul Penzone said Hurley beat Ruiz until he was unconscious.
The deputy remained on life support and never regained consciousness following the attack, Sheriff Penzone said.
Hurley allegedly stole an MCSO vehicle to leave the substation, later abandoning it and stealing another vehicle.
Hurley was taken into custody on Oct. 11, 2021, after being shot while allegedly trying to rob a home in Tonopah.
Records show Hurley and Ruiz had crossed paths during a separate police incident prior to the assault.
Hurley was released from state prison in December 2020 under lifetime probation for a previous conviction of attempted child molestation. In May 2021, he was charged with two felonies: Unlawful use of Means of Transportation and Escape in the Second Degree.
Hurley's trial is scheduled to begin in October.