Old Time Crime: Pregnant girlfriend of former Phoenix Sun murdered in 1993

Posted at 11:00 AM, Jul 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-22 23:28:26-04

The pregnant girlfriend of a former Phoenix Suns player was murdered in 1993, the athlete’s cousin continues to serve time in prison for the murder. 

July 22, 1993, was the last time Althea Hayes, 27, was seen alive. 

Two days later her father found her deceased in her apartment. She was shot four times with a .380 caliber handgun. 

Hayes was the girlfriend of Phoenix Suns forward Jerrod Mustaf and was carrying his child. Mustaf didn't want the child and offered Hayes $5,000 to abort her pregnancy. 

Witnesses saw Mustaf and his cousin Lavonnie Wooten at Hayes' apartment complex on July 22. 

“If anything happens you know who was here"

Later that night, Hayes called a friend telling her, "Vonnie" was at the apartment, "so if anything happens you know who was here." A few minutes later neighbors reported hearing gunshots. 

Wooten returned home and told his girlfriend to pack, that they were heading to California. While en route Wooten disassembled a handgun, and threw it out the car window. 

Wooten would later conspire with his girlfriend, giving her instructions on what to tell investigators if she was questioned. She was to tell them that they had left for California in the afternoon of July 22, before the murder took place. 

He also instructed her to tell police that they came to Phoenix to visit her cousin. 

She broke down and admitted lying for Wooten

Police would later find out that her cousin was out of town during that time. When confronted by police, she broke down and admitted lying for Wooten. 

Wooten was located and arrested in Maryland and brought to Arizona to face charges of murder, burglary and witness tampering. 

Wooten's attorney contended that Mustaf asked someone else to kill Hayes. 

During the grand jury process, Jerrod Mustaf was ordered to appear but was dismissed after invoking his 5th Amendment rights. 

Both prosecutors and Wooten's attorney said there was not enough evidence to charge Mustaf with a crime. 

Mustaf was released by the Suns in September 1994. 

He just smiled, waved and yelled 'peace'

Wooten was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1996, where he remains today. Courtroom witness said he did not react to the verdict, he just smiled, waved and yelled 'peace.'