Michael J. Thurman testified against his former friend and co-defendant Quentin L. Evans, on Thursday, during the tail end of an armed robbery and kidnapping trial at Pima County Superior Court.
According to court records, at about midnight on March 5, 2015, Javier Figueroa, Moises Enriquez, Travis Vertrees and Omar Estrada-Vasquez were robbed at gunpoint by three men, while arriving at Figueroa’s home.
Thurman said Figueroa was considered a thief amongst his friends, and the robbery was supposed to teach him a lesson, but until the night of incident talking about the robbery was just a joke.
Rebecca Mueller, deputy Pima County attorney, asked Thurman how their discussion went from being to a joke to something serious.
“Alcohol and drugs will do a lot of things to your thinking, but I can’t really answer that,” Thurman said.
Mueller said at some point it was no longer a joke, which Thurman confirmed.
Thurman, 19, was 17 at the time of his arrest, and was on probation services for a previous felony conviction.
Defense attorney Stephanie K. Bond evoked a range of emotions from Thurman during the cross examination. At one point, Judge Sean E. Brearcliffe directed Thurman to simply answer Bond’s questions.
As Bond went through his prior interviews, she methodically identified the inconsistencies with his testimony. Thurman said he was being medicated at the time.
Evans and Thurman were charged with five counts of armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. In exchange for his testimony, Thurman is being charged with one count of attempted armed robbery, and will serve between two and nine years in prison.
Mueller walked Thurman through the night of crime, also pointing out where his testimony and prior interviews with police were inconsistent.
Thurman said he restrained one of the victims with makeshift handcuffs, and held all three outside, while Evans and another suspect entered the Figueroa residence in search of marijuana and money.
During an interview with law enforcement in July 2015, Thurman said Evans bragged about pistol whipping one victim during the home invasion — a claim he denied during his testimony.
Figueroa told the Tucson Police Department that he recognized the defendants, because they used their street names during the crime.
TPD obtained a search warrant for Evans’ residence, and found a semiautomatic handgun, a revolver, a black mask and identification cards belonging to the victims as well as Estrada’s watch and wallet.
Thurman and Evans were inseparable at the time of their arrest, he said. The two friends moved into Evans’ new apartment one day prior to the incident.
Thurman’s step-mother died in December 2014, of an alleged drug overdose, according to a letter written by his biological mother, Michele Keller.
Keller gave birth to her son while in prison, and Thurman remained under his stepmother’s care until her death. Keller served multiple sentences in prison for drug offenses, but has remained clean and sober for more than 10 years.
The defendant’s bond was originally set at $50,000. Thurman’s bail was reduced to $10,000, but he has remained in jail since his arrest. Keller pleaded with the court to release Thurman in her custody, although she could not afford bail.
Judge Brearcliffe told the jury that they are ahead of schedule, but some witnesses cannot testify early. The trial is set to end on Friday, March 31.