COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Willcox Range News) – A jury of five men and seven women took a day and a half to convict Gil Gaxiola of first-degree attempted murder of a National Park Service employee, as well as armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault, kidnapping and theft of means of transportation, following an 11-day trial.
The verdict came in around 10:30 a.m. Friday morning, after a day and a half of deliberation.
Sentencing was set for Monday, April 17, at 9 a.m. in Division 3 of Cochise County Superior Court. He could receive a maximum of 95 years on prison.
Gaxiola, 33, was charged with the Aug. 28, 3013 attempted murder, along with seven other charges, in the brutal attack of Karen Gonzales, of Willcox, a National Park Service employee at the Chiricahua National Monument.
Prosecuting attorney Doyle Johnstun said he will argue for aggravating factors prior to sentencing, including emotional and financial harm to Gonzales, ambushing the victim, being in the country illegally, and prior felony convictions.
He added that the “finding of dangerousness within the counts makes prison mandatory. But without the finding of aggravating factors, the judge can’t sentence him with the aggravated sentence, which is more than the presumptive or mitigated sentence. And we also don’t know what mitigating factors may be argued for Gaxiola.”
Gonzales’ reaction following the verdict was one of relief.
“I’m so glad it’s over. I’m thrilled the jury did not believe his ridiculous story. Despite what was said, I was absolutely certain it was him and seeing his picture in the newspaper was confirmation. Mostly, I’m just relieved. He won’t be able to hurt anyone else,” she said.