Man pleads not guilty in Surprise double murder

Posted at 9:41 AM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 14:40:31-05

One of two men accused of murdering two women inside a Surprise home pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday morning.

Andrew Lauro, 24, and a resident of Goodyear, entered his plea in Maricopa County Superior Court. He faces two counts of premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon in the deaths of 70-year-old Barbara Leslie, of Surprise, and 75-year-old Ruth Schwed, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The second suspect, 23-year-old Montez Lavell Wright III, remains jailed in Michigan where he is awaiting extradition to Arizona to face charges.

On Feb. 9, police found the bodies of both women dead of gunshot wounds inside Leslie's home near Reems and Bell roads. Shell casings were found near the bodies, said police.

Police said a cell phone found inside the home and phone records led police to the arrests of the two men.

Authorities were initially called to the home after an Schwed's son noticed $23,000 in charges on one of the victim's credit cards. His mom was visiting Leslie. When he could not get a hold of either woman, he contacted police.

After news of the arrests were announced, Schwed's family released a statement:

We applaud the work of the Surprise Police Department as they work to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of our mother and her friend. The arrests announced today are due to the diligence of the Surprise police department and multiple law enforcement agencies and those working with them. Our family continues to grieve the loss of our mother, grandmother, and sister. Our goal is to ensure that those responsible for these murders will never be able to harm anyone again.

Lauro is being held on a $700,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for April 20, according to court officials.