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After years of delays, trial date set in 2015 QuikTrip killing of Grant Ronnebeck

Posted at 6:57 PM, Oct 15, 2021

MESA, AZ — After years of delays, the man accused of killing a QuikTrip clerk over a pack of cigarettes in 2015 is now slated to go to trial in March.

The murder of Grant Ronnebeck, 21, in Mesa became front-and-center in the national debate over immigration policy, and Grant's dad, Steve Ronnebeck, became part of Donald Trump's "angel families."

The defendant in the case, Apolinar Altamirano, is an undocumented immigrant who was awaiting deportation proceedings when he allegedly shot Ronnebeck, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office tried to make this a death penalty case, and the hearings and appeals on the issue dragged on for years.

Ultimately, the Arizona Supreme Court denied a death penalty prosecution because it's unconstitutional to put someone to death who had limited mental capacity.

Last month, ABC15 reported the Ronnebeck family had previously supported a plea deal only to have prosecutors refuse it. At that point, Steve Ronnebeck told ABC15 he was frustrated by delays and a lack of communication on the status of the case.

"They got to listen to the victims' families," said Mary Ann Mendoza, another "angel" parent, and friend to Steve Ronnebeck. "We know what justice we want, and we know how justice can be served for our families and for our loved ones that were killed."

Mendoza and Arizona gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon attended Friday's pre-trial hearing with Steve Ronnebeck.

When he was a congressman, Salmon introduced Grant's Law, which aimed to end Homeland Security's "catch-and-release" policies for undocumented immigrants.

Got a news tip? Email ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.