State v. Shephard, 052820 AZAPP1, 1 CA-CR 19-0271

Docket Nº:1 CA-CR 19-0271
Opinion Judge:GASS, JUDGE
Party Name:STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee, v. TICHINA SHEPHARD, Appellant.
Attorney:Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Casey D. Ball Counsel for Appellee Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Phoenix By Kevin D. Heade Counsel for Appellant
Judge Panel:Judge David B. Gass delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop and Judge Maria Elena Cruz joined.
Case Date:May 28, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Arizona




No. 1 CA-CR 19-0271

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 28, 2020

Not for Publication - Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CR2017-005699-002 The Honorable Danielle J. Viola, Judge

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Casey D. Ball Counsel for Appellee

Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Phoenix By Kevin D. Heade Counsel for Appellant

Judge David B. Gass delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop and Judge Maria Elena Cruz joined.



¶1 Tichina Shephard appeals her convictions and sentences for a total of 11 counts, including two counts for first-degree felony murder. For the following reasons, this court affirms.


¶2 This court reviews the facts in the light most favorable to sustaining the jury's verdicts, resolving all reasonable inferences against Shephard. See State v. Felix, 237 Ariz. 280, 283, ¶ 2 (App. 2015). This court does not weigh the evidence or assess witness credibility, because those are jury functions. See State v. Williams, 209 Ariz. 228, 231, ¶ 6 (App. 2004); State v. Salman, 182 Ariz. 359, 361 (App. 1994).

¶3 In 2016, Shepard and Montez Wright, then a married couple, moved from Michigan to Arizona. Wright began working for a landscaping company. While working at the landscaping company, Wright met Andrew Lauro, another employee at the company. Wright told Lauro he was having financial problems and was worried about becoming homeless. Wright and Lauro developed a plan to burglarize a house in the retirement community where their employer had them doing landscaping work.

¶4 On Sunday, the day before the burglary, Wright and Shephard met with Lauro and finalized a plan to commit the burglary. The plan was to drive around on Monday morning until they selected a house with an open garage door. According to their plan, Wright and Lauro would enter the house, and Wright would hold the victims at gunpoint while Lauro tied them up. Shephard was to drive the getaway car.

¶5 Later in the day, Shephard created a "Stripe" account. Stripe accounts can be used for companies to move money around to different bank accounts. The Stripe account, purportedly for a wig business, was registered using Shephard's phone, and was linked to her email address. The Stripe account was subsequently linked to two bank accounts, one belonging to Shephard and one belonging to Wright.

¶6 On Monday morning, consistent with their plan, the three went to Sun City. Though Lauro's testimony was often inconsistent, he said the three discussed the plan in the car on the way to the retirement community. Wright told Lauro he had a gun, which he purchased from Craigslist. Lauro understood he was to use duct tape to restrain the victims in the house. Shephard understood she was to move the car up the street and pick up Wright and Lauro when they came out of the house.

¶7 They identified a house with an open garage door. Wright and Lauro got out of the car, put on their work vests, and approached the open garage door. While Wright and Lauro did this, Shephard slid over to the driver's seat. The homeowner, A.D., saw the three park near his house. A.D. watched Wright and Lauro put on their work vests and approach his open garage door. A.D. closed his garage door and called the police.

¶8 Wright and Lauro quickly returned to the car and drove away. Within minutes, they came across another open garage door at B.L.'s house a few blocks away. Wright and Lauro entered B.L.'s house through the open garage while Shephard stayed in the car. Once inside, they found B.L.'s friend, R.S., reading a newspaper. Wright told R.S. "it's a stick up." Wright then shot her. Hearing the disturbance, B.L. came out of a bedroom, and Wright also shot her. Wright then shot R.S. a second time as she was about to use her cell phone. Both victims died.

¶9 Even though the plan was for Shephard to drive them away once they left the house, Wright and Lauro stole the victims' purses and fled in B.L.'s SUV. Cell phone records show Wright called Shephard at about the time of the burglary. Wright drove to a nearby church, where they joined up with Shephard, who was waiting in the parking lot.

¶10 While in the church parking lot, Wright realized he dropped his cell phone at B.L.'s house, so he returned to B.L.'s house in B.L.'s SUV to retrieve it but was unable to do so. In the meantime, Shephard and Lauro went back to Avondale in Wright's car and divided the cash in the two purses. Shephard kept the victims' credit cards and identification.

¶11 The three met up again when Wright returned to Avondale, where he subsequently abandoned B.L.'s SUV. The three then went to PIR Raceway, where they disposed of the gun Wright used to shoot the victims and burned the purses and some clothing they used in the robbery. Before they left PIR Raceway, Shephard disposed of additional bullets still in Wright's car. Once they returned to Avondale, Lauro went his own way.

¶12 Wright and Shephard then made several transactions using B.L. and R.S.'s credit cards with a Stripe account Shephard created the day before the murders. The next day, the police went to B.L.'s house to perform a welfare check and discovered the victims. The police found Wright's cell phone at B.L.'s house. The police used the cell phone records to find Lauro, who eventually led the police to Wright and Shephard.

¶13 Shephard faced 11 counts: two counts of first-degree felony murder, 1 one count of first-degree burglary, one count of theft of means of transportation, one count of attempted first-degree burglary...

To continue reading