Death Row Diaries: Arizona executed two murderers in one week in 1998

Posted at 10:27 AM, Jul 02, 2016

Arizona’s most notorious death row inmates past and present have incredible stories including this one where a man used his victim's ID and credit card to purchase a car.


Date of Birth: May 24, 1954

Executed: April 29, 1998

The Crime:

On April 10, 1990, Arthur Ross made an appointment to see James Ruble, a Tucson real estate agent. Ross told Ruble he was interested in seeing some commercial property near Ina and Thorneydale roads in Tucson. Ross called himself Michael Davis and said he was interested in the property for a photographic design business. 

At 2 p.m., Ross met Ruble at the vacant store, armed with a 9MM handgun. Once inside, Ross tried to take Ruble's wallet. As the two struggled, Ruble was shot in the head at close range. Then Ross dragged Ruble behind a counter where he shot him in the head again, killing him. 

Ross purchased a car using Ruble's ID and credit card

Ross immediately began using Ruble's credit cards, even using Ruble's identification to get a temporary driver's license. Over the course of four days, Ross used the cards to get money in Tucson and Casa Grande. In Casa Grande, Ross purchased a car using Ruble's ID and credit card.

Police followed a trail of credit card and bank card transactions, which led to Ross' arrest in Casa Grande on April 14, 1990.

While under arrest, he still claimed to be James Ruble. He soon changed his story and claimed to be Robert Burgess, saying that he found Ruble's wallet in a garbage dumpster.

Eventually he confessed, claiming that there was a struggle and that the first shot was accidental but the second shot was deliberate and done because he was scared.

The Trial:

The trial began on December 18, 1990 and lasted until February 1, 1991. At trial, Ross' defense team tried to suppress his admission of guilt, but was denied at an evidentiary hearing.

The prosecution presented ATM photos showing Ross and his son using Ruble's ATM card. They also showed that Ross' fingerprints were at the murder scene. They also found the murder weapon in Ross' car.

The jury unanimously found Ross guilty of premeditated murder. In April 1991, Ross was sentenced to death.

Ross' appeals lasted seven years, as his defense team presented evidence to show a childhood background of emotionally and physically abusive foster home conditions and sexual abuse, a prison record of educating himself, tutoring others, and attending counseling, also his cooperation with police, a lack of any prior record of violence, and current family support.

The state fired back, saying Ross had been convicted of nine crimes, spending time in prison on five separate occasions. Some of those convictions happened while he was still in prison or on parole. They pointed out that Ross was still on parole when he killed Ruble.

Ross said he would rather die, than live on death row

Ross could have delayed his execution at least three more years with additional federal appeals but Ross said he "would rather die, than live on death row."

The Execution:

April 29, 1998

Ross' execution was the second one that week for Arizona. Just after midnight of April 22, 46-year-old Jose Villafuerte became the 10th man executed by lethal injection in Arizona

One week later Ross became number 11.

Ross' last meal:

  • 3 Grilled cheese & fried egg sandwiches
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 2 cans of Pepsi

Last words:


Information gathered from AZ. Dept. of Corrections, AZ. Attorney General’s Office, ABC 15 archives and State v. Ross 180 Ariz. 598 (1994) 886 P.2d 1354