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Prosecutor requests Rector trial date be set

August 9, 2018

KINGMAN — The prosecutor in a four-year-old Bullhead City murder case is asking to set a trial date.

Justin James Rector, 30, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body in the 2014 death of 8-year-old Isabella Grogan-Cannella. He is being held in the Mohave County Jail in Kingman without bond. He also is charged with three counts of aggravated assault for allegedly assaulting a detention officer July 17, 2017, in his jail cell.

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Greg McPhillips filed a motion late Tuesday giving the judge notice that the victim’s family is requesting a speedy trial. He also filed a motion asking the judge to set a trial date at Rector’s next hearing.

McPhillips said that at a July 30 hearing, Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ordered that both sides set up times for interviews. The defense attorney is refusing to give any dates for the interviews, McPhillips said

McPhillips said he provided Rector’s attorneys a list of his witnesses to interview in 2014, 2015 and again on Tuesday. There are about 100 witnesses to interview. With the defense refusing to take part, the prosecutor is asking to waive the interviews, which are time consuming.

Rector’s next hearing is set for Sept. 7. He is being represented by Julia Cassels, who was assigned to the case in July 2016. Cassels recently said that she had lost three-fifths of her defense team when McPhillips withdrew the death penalty against her client in February.

Grogan-Cannella and her 10-year-old sister were left in Rector’s care the night of Sept. 2, 2014, when their parents went to a department store. When they returned, they reported the girl missing from their Lakeside Drive home.

Grogan-Cannella’s body was found in a shallow grave in a wash about a half-mile from her home. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation by strangulation. Rector was arrested later that morning.

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