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Vizcara sentenced to 24 years in prison for involvement in murders

May 24, 2019

KINGMAN — The second of five Bullhead City codefendants was sentenced to a long prison term Thursday for his part in a January 2018 double murder.

Jose Eduardo Vizcara, 29, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of kidnapping. Two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a dead body in one case and vehicle theft, unlawful flight and two drug charges in another case were dismissed.

Three other Bullhead City suspects, Robin Denise Reid, 50, Lamya Lynn Bencheqroun, 28, and Lucas Wayne Shankles, 23, are charged in the January 2018 murders of Mona Carter, 51, and Daryl Ward, 22, both of Bullhead City.

Bencheqroun had a status hearing Thursday morning with her next hearing set for July.

Vizcara’s attorney, Julia Cassels argued for the minimum sentence of 14 years, saying that her client was remorseful, which she said she believed was sincere. Vizcara also had minimal criminal history and was even allowed to be a trustee at the jail.

Cassels said drugs led Vizcara to participate in the crime. The defendant also spoke, apologizing to the judge, and said he would accept whatever sentence is handed down.

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jaimye Ashley said that Vizcara was the driver of the SUV that took the other suspects and the victims to the desert. She maintained that he was an active participant in the kidnapping and took part in the stripping naked of the victims. He was more than an accomplice, she said.

Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert said that Vizcara knew he was driving the victims out to the desert to be executed. He also said he saw the murder of each victim as separate crimes and that he would sentence Vizcara to consecutive sentences.

“You played a big part in all this,” Lambert said.

Lambert sentenced Vizcara to 24 years in prison, finding that he was an accomplice and took into account the emotional harm to the victim’s families

On Jan. 10, 2018, the five defendants allegedly stripped Ward naked and tortured him about stolen drugs while Carter was also tortured about being a police snitch. The victims were driven in an SUV from a Bullhead City home into the desert off El Rodeo Road in Fort Mohave.

Ashley previously said that Francisco Javier Romero Jr. shot Ward, who tried to escape from the vehicle only to be shot several more times. Bencheqroun then allegedly shot Carter. Justin Todd Maxwell reportedly arrived later and picked up the five suspects and allegedly burned the SUV.

Romero, 27, pleaded guilty in December to murder and kidnapping. He was sentenced in February to life in prison without parole for 25 years for the murder charge and an additional 15 years in prison for the kidnapping charge.

Vizcara’s other codefendants, Reid and Shankles, are charged with two counts of murder and two counts of kidnapping. Bencheqroun is charged with two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of abandonment of a dead body. Maxwell, 37, is charged with arson of a structure and hindering prosecution.

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