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Former Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel dies due to 'health complications,' family says

Allister Adel
Posted at 1:27 PM, Apr 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 11:53:15-04

PHOENIX — Former Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has died, according to family.

A statement from a spokesperson said Allister Adel DeNitto died Saturday morning due to health complications.

She was 45 years old.

She is survived by her husband and two children.

"This May we would have celebrated 20 years of marriage. My family and I are utterly heartbroken by this unimaginable loss. We are so very proud to call Allister wife and mom," said her husband, David DeNitto, in a statement. "We are asking that the press and the public honor her, her legacy and our family by respecting our privacy at this difficult time."

A private memorial service is set to take place on May 9, 2022, at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

Donations can be made in her memory to Phoenix Rotary 100.

Allister Adel

"We were shocked and heartbroken by the sudden passing of Allister Adel," said House Democratic Leader Reginald Bolding, in a statement. "She was a deeply committed public servant, as well as a loving wife and mother. On behalf of our caucus and staff, I extend our deepest condolences to her husband, children, friends and loved ones during this difficult time."

"On behalf of the Superior Court in Maricopa County, we are saddened by the by the loss of Allister Adel. Allister was a dedicated public servant and a passionate advocate of the law," said a statement on behalf of Presiding Judge Joseph Welty of the Maricopa County Superior Court. "As the first woman elected as the Maricopa County Attorney, she opened the door for many to follow. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family in this time of mourning."

Various Arizonan public officials reacted to the news of Adel's death on Twitter, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Governor Doug Ducey, Sherrif Paul Penzone, former Governor Jan Brewer, County Attorney candidate Rachel Mitchell and Chairman Bill Gates.

Adel was appointed Maricopa County Attorney in 2019 and held the position through March 2022.

Adel replaced Bill Montgomery who was appointed to the State Supreme Court. 13 months later Maricopa County voters chose her to be the first woman elected to the position. "I was big supporter of hers and advocated for her and was so happy she won," said Kathleen Winn.

Kathleen Winn's friendship with Alister Adel began 15 years ago when they were members of the Phoenix Rotary. "We worked together on getting law changed so that we could really try to interrupt and disrupt the flow of sex trafficking," Winn said.

Winn attended Adel's election night victor party. The winner did not. Adel was rushed to the hospital after falling and suffering a brain injury at home.

After her fall, Adel had emergency surgery for the removal of a blood clot from bleeding on the brain.

The injury led to prolonged absences from work. Then the revelation Adel was dealing with substance abuse challenges. At the same time, her office was facing mounting criticism for falsely pursuing gang charges against protestors taking part in anti-police violence demonstrations in Phoenix during the Summer of 2020. And failing to file timely charges in 180 misdemeanor cases. That resulted in the cases being dropped.

"I think she had demons and was fighting them. I think the public fall from grace on top that was just really difficult," Winn said.

Last year, she spent time in a rehabilitation center for alcohol use and mental health issues.

Adel's resignation went into effect in March.

Video in the player above is from 2020 coverage following Adel's hospitalization.