KINGMAN – Darrell Bryant Ketchner, convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder, has been spared the death penalty with a motion filed Tuesday by prosecuting attorney Megan McCoy.
Ketchner, 59, was convicted of stabbing to death Ariel Allison, 18, on July 4, 2009, and attempting to kill her mother, Jennifer Allison.
He was sentenced to death in 2013. However, an appellate court reversed the murder conviction in 2014, based on prejudicial testimony from a domestic violence expert, and sent the case back to Mohave County Superior Court.
Defense attorneys have focused on avoiding the death penalty as the case dragged on.
“It is with deep respect for the victims, the community, the judicial system and the practical reality of the process that this decision is made,” McCoy said in her motion to withdraw the state’s intent to seek the death penalty.
The reasons for the decision include:
No realistic speedy resolution for the families of the victims, community or state. The soonest trial date in his case would be 10 years after the events charged.
Multiple changes in defense counsel and delayed progress in the case as a result.
Even if the state is successful in the death penalty phase, there is no reasonable likelihood of the death penalty actually being imposed in a realistic and efficient timeframe, given the current state of affairs for people sentenced to death.
Given the defendants’ current sentence on other charges, he is almost certain to die in prison due to natural cause.
In a status conference Wednesday, Judge Rick Williams stated there will be some issues with regard to whether the case will still be assigned to his division moving forward, and whether Ketchner will need representation by two attorneys.
Michael Reeves, attorney for the defendant, said he’ll be consulting with indigent services about continued representation, and asked that both he and attorney Patricia Hubbard remain assigned to the case.
Williams granted the motion to withdraw the death penalty, but did not set a trial date.
Ketchner is serving a sentence of 57 years for attempted first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault.