By Richard Smith
Andrew Thomas Lauro, 25, of Goodyear, signed a plea agreement May 5, pleading guilty to to two counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of two women in Sun City Grand on Feb. 9, 2016.
Barbara Leslie, 70, of Surprise and visiting friend Ruth Schwed, 75, of Albuquerque, N.M. were killed inside Leslie’s house in the 15500 block of West Agua Linda Lane in Sun City.
Resident Diane Rodosta, who lives about a mile from the site of the murders, said neighbors do not talk about the incident any more and she has not had any conversations about Lauro’s plea in the last week.
Mr. Lauro was arrested by Surprise Police Feb. 19, 2016, and charged with the murders, as was Montez Lavell Wright III of Southfield, Mich., in suburban Detroit Feb. 20.
Both also were charged with two counts of armed robbery and one count of burglary. Wright’s trial is slated to begin Sept. 19.
Mr. Lauro is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5 before Judge Erin Otis in Maricopa County Superior Court. He also pleaded guilty to one count of burglary.
According to a representative from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Mr. Lauro will not be eligible for parole until serving at least 35.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Mr. Lauro will serve 10.5 years for one count of Burglary in the First Degree and will serve two concurrent life sentences for two counts of First Degree Murder.
Ms. Leslie’s car, a red 2012 Buick Enclave had been taken from her residence and was found by authorities abandoned at an apartment complex.
Both men worked for Gothic Grounds Management for about a month as field gardeners, which has serviced Sun City Grand for 15 years.. In a letter to Grand residents, the company stated their last day of employment was Feb. 5, 2016.
Sun City Grand was already on edge in winter 2016 following the armed robbery of a couple living there that January. Residents proposed additional security measures at community entrances, and the age restricted community’s leadership spent several months looking into implementing security cameras
The 21 cameras required would cost $62,000 and included two sites on Mountain View Boulevard and Cotton Lane that come into the community without a formal entrance and guard house.
In its August meeting, the community association board voted 4-3 to stop researching the proposal, with those voting for its end concerned about the cost and effectiveness of adding cameras.
Again, Ms. Rodosta said, resident safety concerns seemed to receede with time.
“I really haven’t heard anything. When something happens they talk about it and then it fizzles out,” she said.