KINGMAN — The cost to try two murder cases in Mohave County in the past 10 years is about $2.5 million.
Prosecutors in both Justin James Rector’s and Darrell Bryant Ketchner’s murder cases withdrew the death penalty in February. There are no other death penalty cases in the county.
Rector, 30, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the Sept. 2, 2014 killing of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella. Six other charges in two cases were dismissed. His attorney also withdrew from the case.
Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen will sentence Rector Jan. 30 to life in prison without parole for at least 35 years.
The updated total cost for Rector’s defense in the murder case is $899,395. The total cost includes $626,628 for all of Rector’s defense attorneys and more than $272,016 for investigative services since the 2014-15 fiscal year, Mohave County Indigent Defense Services Director Blake Schritter said.
According to Mohave County Chief Deputy Attorney James Schoppmann, the prosecution bore no added costs during the lengthy process, although it did take manpower away from other cases.
“Essentially no additional costs (were assessed) to the county as it was part of the job and salary,” Schoppmann said. “However, we did have overwhelming support from the FBI and other outside agencies who did not charge us. We cannot stress enough the support from the FBI.”
Ketchner, 60, is charged with first-degree murder and burglary in the death of 18-year-old Ariel Allison at her Kingman home on the night of July 4, 2009. He previously was convicted and sentenced to death but an appeals court overturned both the sentence and the conviction. Prosecutors decided to drop the death penalty, citing the cost of capital penalty cases as a factor in that decision, but are seeking to retry Ketchner on the murder charge.
The updated total cost for Ketchner’s re-trial defense from the 2014-15 fiscal year is $779,530. The total cost includes $483,466 for Ketchner’s defense attorneys and more than $296,064 for investigative services, Schritter said.
The total cost for Ketchner’s first trial defense from the 2009-10 to the 2013-14 fiscal years was $779,639. The total cost includes $343,110 for Ketchner’s defense attorneys and more than $436,528 for investigative services.
The total costs of Ketchner’s appeals from 2013-14 to 2014-15 fiscal years was $37,421.
Ketchner’s next hearing before Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert has been set for Jan. 7.