BISBEE — A 52-year-old convicted killer will spend the rest of his life in prison, but the sentence meted out to Roger Delane Wilson in court Monday came as no surprise to the defendant.
In October, Wilson, from Hereford, was convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting J.D. Arvizu in the chest the morning of June 22, 2017. Wilson repeatedly had accused Arvizu in the months before the killing of stealing from Wilson’s mother’s residence on Santa Elena Avenue. Days before the incident the two men had argued about the issue and Arvizu had punched Wilson in the face.
Wilson did not strike back, but a witness later testified at trial that Wilson said Arvizu would “get his.”
Just after 1 a.m., Wilson shot Arvizu outside the gate of Wilson’s mother’s house. Investigators said Arvizu approached Wilson on his way to a friend’s residence on East Sagebrush Road.
Because of Wilson’s behavior at a hearing on Nov. 9, he was told in advance what his prison sentence would be in order to avoid an emotional or violent reaction at the sentencing hearing.
In a motion to Cochise County Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson last week, assistant prosecutor Lori Zucco asked that Wilson be brought into the courtroom in “full restraints,” including a stun gun in case he got out of hand.
“Defendant, no doubt has a history of disruptive and violent behavior in this case,” Zucco’s motion said. “However, for the trial proceedings, he was relatively cooperative, and in contrast to the last motion hearing, the sentencing hearing will not bring any ‘surprises’ or unexpected decisions to the Defendant.
“In this case, the Sentencing leaves no discretion for the Court on the sentence imposed, and the Defendant is aware of the life imprisonment sentence that will be imposed,” the motion says.
Eight Cochise County Sheriff’s deputies were in the small courtroom Monday afternoon, five of them standing, their backs pressed against the wall behind Wilson. Two others stood next to Wilson. Another deputy sat in a chair at the opposite end of the courtroom. Two Sheriff’s detectives also were in attendance, one of them, Todd Borquez, the lead investigator on the murder case.
Wilson was handcuffed and wore leg shackles. He sat alone at the defense table, but muttered and threw out insults at Zucco and Borquez before the hearing started at 3 p.m., calling both of them liars, among other things.
He then bellowed for Dickerson to come out of his chambers: “Judge Dickerson, get your (expletive) out here!”
Wilson was alone at the defense table because his attorney, Chris Kimminau, asked to attend the hearing by phone. At the Nov. 9 hearing to determine if Wilson should have a retrial, Wilson yelled out expletives at Kimminau, Zucco and Dickerson when the judge denied the motion for a new trial. When the tirade ended, Wilson then kicked Kimminau in the left side and shot up from his chair. That prompted three uniformed officers to rush toward Wilson, taking him down to the floor. Two detectives attending the hearing assisted in dragging Wilson out of the courtroom.
His sentencing would have taken place that same day, but when Wilson refused to sit in a chair at the Cochise County Jail in Bisbee so he could appear by video, the hearing was rescheduled.
In Zucco’s motion and subsequently in an order signed by Dickerson, Wilson — who has made it known several times that he would appeal his sentence — would have been stripped of his right to appeal if he had caused Monday’s sentencing hearing to be delayed.
Dickerson’s order states: “An appeal cannot be filed until after he is sentenced. If his misbehavior causes the sentencing hearing to be delayed more than 90 days after the determination of guilty (the guilty verdict on October 1, 2020), defendant will lose his right to a direct appeal.”
Kimminau said Monday he would file the notice of appeal on behalf of Wilson in the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Wilson’s misbehavior at the last hearing came as no surprise to court officials. Over the past three years since he’s been incarcerated at the county jail, Wilson has threatened at least one of his defense attorneys with death — Kimminau is his eighth attorney — and punched one in the face. He also said he would kill Zucco, as well as Cochise County Superior Judge James Conlogue, who was handling the case before Dickerson.
In a final jab, Wilson told Dickerson that both he and Conlogue are a “joke.”
“I’m surprised you even have a job,” Wilson said to Dickerson at the sentencing hearing.
Monday’s sentencing was the culmination of the three-year-old case that has been rife with drama, mainly because of Wilson’s mental health issues and behavior. Before Wilson was led out of the courtroom, Dickerson asked the attorneys if they wanted to say anything and both declined.
Wilson’s mother, Jan Wilson, was not at the sentencing hearing, but responded to a request for comment.
“We believe strongly that Roger is innocent and the Court of Appeals will reverse this wrong decision,” she said. “Had there been a fair and unbiased investigation from the start, these wrong charges would never have been filed.
“I also believe had evidence in Roger’s behalf not been withheld from the jury there would have been a different verdict.
“He is innocent of this charge.”
Arvizu’s parents were not at the hearing either, but issued written statements to the court.
Arvizu’s mother, Michelle Arvizu, also sent a text message to the Herald/Review: “My son can rest now because justice has been served.”