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8/15/2013 6:00:00 AM
Homicide cases stacked up in Mohave County court
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Eight alleged killers face nine murder trials over the next 10 weeks in Mohave County, with the majority of them scheduled in the courtroom of Judge Steven Conn.

While it's a foregone conclusion not all of the trials will take place as scheduled, a few of them undoubtedly will as most pretrial issues have been addressed.

Russell Shields

One of those whose trial should take place barring unforeseen circumstances is Russell Eugene Shields, who stands accused in the July 2011 murder of Alberto Orozco.

Police and prosecutors believe Shields shot Orozco to death with a shotgun over a $400 debt.

Shields' trial is set to start Oct. 18 before Judge Derek Carlisle. He is currently serving a 10-year term on charges of selling methamphetamine. Both Shields and the man police say he killed were Kingman residents.

George Loader

Another trial that has a chance of being held is the State of Arizona versus George Loader. Loader is the Kingman man accused in the gruesome Nov. 22, 2011 shotgun shooting death and subsequent dismemberment of John Oppenheim.

Loader allegedly killed Oppenheim, his former cellmate in the Mohave County jail, because he thought the man sexually assaulted his young daughter.

A medical evaluation revealed the toddler was not molested.

Loader, like Shields, is currently in prison on unrelated drug charges.

His trial is set to begin Oct. 22, but his new attorney, Christian Ackerley, might ask for a postponement in order to get up to speed.

Loader is set to go to trial on the same date as Casey Fessenden, one of two men accused in the April 12, 2010 execution-style killing of Christopher Gillespie.

Casey Fessenden and Norman Corley

Fessenden and Corley were charged with killing Gillespie in cold blood more than three years ago in an ambush in the desert off of Old Trails Road near the second black railroad bridge.

Mohave County Sheriff's detectives believe Fessenden, armed with an AR-15 rifle, lay in wait for Gillespie.

Detectives believe Corley lured Gillespie to the desert and led him into Fessenden's line of sight.

The father of three died from four bullet wounds, three allegedly from Fessenden and one, a .22 caliber round, fired by Corley, according to detectives.

Neither Fessenden nor Corley were arrested for more than a year. Detectives finally received a tip that the rifle was in a home on Route 66.

Corley's trial is scheduled for Sept. 4, but it is possible both trials will be delayed once again, even though Gillespie's death occurred 40 months ago, making it the longest active murder case in Mohave County.

Michael Dobson

Michael Edwin Dobson has spent much of his adult life in prison, beginning in 1984 when he was convicted in California of rape and attempted manslaughter and served 13 years of a 25-year-sentence.

In 2002, Dobson was sent back to prison on drug charges and remained there until 2009.

Two years later his propensity for violence allegedly resulted in the death of 76-year-old Ruby Nell Caldwell in September 2011.

The Kingman woman was a co-worker of Dobson's at a local fast food outlet and she was a friend of Dobson's mother.

He is accused of first-degree murder and his trial is set for Oct. 8. There are no anticipated delays.

Michael Rivera

Eyewitnesses claim they saw Michael Anthony Rivera run down Nickolaus Gerencser one warm day in November 2011. And then they saw him run over the young man's body for good measure.

The dispute between Rivera and Gerencser revolves around Rivera's stepdaughter, with whom Gerencser was involved.

Rivera was allowed to fire his court-appointed attorney in June. His new trial date is set for Oct. 1.

Jeff Costa

One of only two of the eight alleged murderers not from Kingman is Jeffrey Paul Costa, who allegedly bludgeoned to death his uncle, Wayne Lopez, in November 2011,.

Lopez was mortally wounded inside his Lake Havasu City home and died a day or two later at a Las Vegas hospital.

Costa was arrested in California and charged with second-degree murder. His trial is set for Sept. 10, and there are no apparent obstacles to it going forward.

Jade Tracy

Jade Sterling Tracy is accused of beating to death Michael Clayton Clark in Bullhead City last September, and then dumping his body in the roadway to make it look like Clark was the victim of a hit and run.

According to Bullhead City police, Tracy and his friend, Eric Durand, beat Clark to the point he could not stand.

Police said Clark was placed in the back of a pickup truck and driven to Highland Road near Clark's residence, where Tracy reportedly reversed the truck at a high rate of speed before he hit the brakes and dumped Clark from the truck.

The investigation led police to the truck, which was located in Golden Valley, and ultimately to Kingman, where Tracy was apprehended at a friend's house on Jagerson Road.

Durand faces a charge of second-degree murder.

Also arrested and charged with less serious crimes were Tracy's brother, Cole, his girlfriend, Tiffany Ellis, and his father, Todd Sterling Tracy.

Clark was reportedly killed for insulting the elder Tracy's girlfriend.

There is nothing to indicate the trial won't begin as scheduled on Oct. 16.

Related Stories:
• Dobson found guilty of 2011 murder

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“How do they choose people for jury duty?”

Since I have been “selected” every two years since moving here and have been rejected every single time – I have no idea. And believe me I would love to serve on a jury.

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: R .

"Eight alleged killers face nine murder trials over the next 10 weeks..."
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

If one wants to commit murder do it in takes forever for some conclusion and justice for the victims and families. What does this tell us about this state that it takes so longgggg?

Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Article comment by: Jury Duty

How do they choose people for jury duty?

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