Death penalty sought against QT murder suspect

Posted at 4:37 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 19:37:51-04

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against the undocumented immigrant charged with the murder of a Mesa gas station clerk.

Video evidence from the January incident shows Apolinar Altamirano, 30, shoot Grant Ronnebeck in the head inside the Quik Trip near Stapley Drive and Broadway Road, according to court documents.

One reason Altamirano shot Ronnebeck, 21, was to make a financial gain, in this case two boxes of cigarettes, according to documents filed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Altamirano pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

He was awaiting deportation proceedings when he allegedly shot Ronnebeck, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

A representative of the Mexican government has appeared at several of Altamirano’s hearings, records show.

Aggravating factors that allow the prosecution to seek the death penalty include the “especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner” of the crime and that Altamirano gained financially from the crime (by taking the cigarettes), according to the prosecution’s filing.

Altamirano is at least the second undocumented immigrant arrested in Maricopa County this year who could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. Prosecutors also put Carlos Cruz on notice that they intend to seek the death penalty if he is convicted. Cruz is accused of murdering his three-year-old daughter in Surprise in May. He pleaded not guilty.

Three undocumented immigrants are on death row in Arizona, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.