A man charged in the death of two undocumented migrants will remain in the Cochise County Jail on $1 million bond after a superior court judge said he committed the offenses in this area while on probation for violations in another county.
Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal issued her ruling after prosecutor Michael Powell also argued that William Maurice Brown stole a gun in Maricopa County while on probation for armed robbery.
“The fact that he stole a gun while on probation should be enough,” Powell told Cardinal at a hearing Tuesday to determine whether Brown should be granted a lower bond and be allowed to return to Maricopa County while he awaits trial. “This is a dangerous individual and a lifelong criminal.”
Brown is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the death of two undocumented migrants in January. The two people were killed in the truck that Brown is accused of driving and losing control of. Three other undocumented individuals also riding in the pickup were injured, police said.
According to police reports and a 16-count indictment, Brown and another man drove to Douglas in two vehicles to pick up 10 undocumented migrants. The pickup was scheduled for the night of Jan. 5 at a Speedway gas station on State Route 80 in the city.
As the migrants were climbing into the respective vehicles — a Jeep Commander and a Ford F-150 — an off-duty Border Patrol agent spotted the activity and called it in to his colleagues. At that point, Border Patrol agents spotted Brown’s truck and the Jeep. They began following them on SR 80 as the drivers of both vehicles headed out of Douglas and toward Bisbee, reports show.
Both suspects accelerated on the highway and attempted to escape at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, police said. The headlights on their vehicles were turned off and they almost slammed into other motorists as they tried to elude capture. Border Patrol agents called ahead to alert Bisbee police of the situation, reports show.
When Brown and the driver of the Jeep reached the traffic circle in Bisbee, they failed to slow down and Brown lost control of the Ford truck, prompting it to flip over a few times, ejecting the passengers, police said. Two of them died at the scene.
Brown later told investigators that he had been paid $2,000 to drive the “load,” which is the term human smugglers use to refer to undocumented migrants who fork over thousands of dollars to be spirited to Tucson, Phoenix or beyond after they’ve crossed the border illegally.
Defense attorney Chris Kimminau argued that if Brown was released, he would remain under the supervision of Maricopa County anyway since he violated probation.
But Cardinal, unconvinced, said Brown is a danger “to this community and the state.” The judge also mentioned the continuing situation with undocumented migrants crossing the border in Arizona and the perils that creates. She admonished Brown for being involved in the human smuggling trade, and especially while on probation.
Brown, who was also charged with endangerment, unlawful flight from law enforcement and aggravated assault, is set to reappear in court on July 12.