Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on February 22, 2024
Schizophrenic Suspect in Phoenix Murders Caught in Judicial Limbo as Competency Questions Stall TrialSource: Vanderburg County Sheriff’s Office.

A suspect with a documented history of severe mental illness is caught in a seemingly endless loop within the Arizona judicial system, facing charges for two separate murders. Major McKenzie, a man with schizophrenia, was found with blood on his clothing and several knives in a Phoenix alleyway. McKenzie has been charged with the deaths of Danny Rubio and Juan Martinez, but the charges have been dismissed and refiled repeatedly as questions about his competency to stand trial continue to arise.

According to a 12News report, a seemingly comprehensive case has been derailed by concerns over McKenzie's mental health. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the '90s and has a lengthy history of involvement with both the judicial system and mental health facilities. Yet the questions of treatment, medication, and McKenzie's own rights have brought the proceedings into a tailspin, with one murder case trailing through the courts for nearly four years without resolution. "We’re just going in circles," lamented Michelle Rubio, sister of victim Danny Rubio, in a statement obtained by 12News.

Meanwhile, in a separate case in Evansville, another man connected with a double murder is requesting charges against him be dropped. Richard Garrett, accused of being the getaway driver in last October's killings, will soon face trial unless his motion is granted. This incident brings to foreground yet another facet of a criminal justice system grappling with the fates of individuals entangled in its machinery.

In Phoenix, as the courts attempt to balance McKenzie's rights against concerns for public safety and the pursuit of justice for the victims, the process illustrates an agonizing see-saw of the rights of the accused versus the resolution for the families involved. "I feel like they protect suspects more than the victims," Michelle Rubio expressed, a sentiment that cuts to the heart of the matter for many who watch the wheels of justice turn with agonizing slowness. McKenzie's sister, the interview with 12News under condition of anonymity, reiterated the family's exhaustive effort to obtain help for her brother, only to see him spiral back to the streets due to gaps in the system.

The next chapter in this strenuous legal saga is tentatively set for April 2024, with McKenzie having yet again been re-arrested and charged for the third time since the initial killings in 2020. As for the urgency of the Evansville case, Garrett's request to have his charges dropped hangs in the balance, with his trial expected to begin April 15, information based on a report by 14News.