Michael Kiefer

Michael Kiefer

Michael Kiefer has been a journalist in Arizona for 31 years, including 16 years at The Arizona Republic and eight at Phoenix New Times. Before that, he was an associate editor at Outside magazine and wrote for numerous publications, including Esquire, Playboy and The New York Times. He witnessed five Arizona executions and covered the topic from state murder trials to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Trump’s trial will be televised. That transparency comes with a cost.

By: - September 11, 2023

The first of the televised sessions in former President Donald Trump’s conspiracy trial in Georgia aired Sept. 5, and it was dull as a butter knife: Two of the 19 alleged conspirators arguing to have their cases separated from the mob and from each other.  It was an inauspicious start to what is potentially the […]

Arizona courtroom icon Mike Kimerer remembered fondly

By: - June 28, 2023

Debra Milke had been in custody for 10 years when she wrote a letter that gave back her life. It was 1999, and Milke was one of two women on Arizona’s death row at Perryville Prison. “I was so desperate for help. And I was scared, because they wanted to kill me,” she told me […]

Trying a death-penalty case without a jury is practically unheard of in Arizona.

By: - June 15, 2023

Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of two particularly gruesome murders.  Bryan Miller, the so-called Canal Killer, brutally murdered two young women in the early 1990s, then lived quietly for 22 years until a DNA hit led to his arrest. On June 7, he sat hunched in a chair at the defendant’s table in a […]

Poorly executed: The politics behind executions

By: and - April 28, 2023

Aaron Gunches killed a man on the Beeline Highway in 2002. His girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend came to visit and overstayed his welcome. The two exes quarreled, it turned physical, and the woman hit her ex-boyfriend in the face with a phone, not knocking him completely out, but making him groggy. Gunches decided to put him on […]

Poorly executed: ‘The experiment failed,’ halting executions in Arizona

By: and - April 27, 2023

Executions are absurd but solemn rituals. In Arizona, they are carried out at what is left of the old central unit in Florence, in a small building called Housing Unit 9 inside the prison walls. And, by law, they are attended by witnesses to make sure that justice is served. Who are the witnesses? The condemned […]

Poorly executed: IVs and ironies

By: and - April 26, 2023

People have asked me many times if I was scared when I interviewed convicted murderers. My answer is that the scariest thing about most murderers is that they aren’t scary. They committed horrible acts, but they don’t usually look like crazed killers in movies. They look and talk like anyone else, which makes you realize […]

Poorly executed: The ‘Golden Age of executions’ comes to an end

By: and - April 25, 2023

In Spring 2010, attorney Dale Baich attended a court hearing for a client on Ohio’s death row who had a scheduled execution date. The Ohio attorney general remarked that the state was having difficulty obtaining one of the drugs they needed to carry out the execution, sodium thiopental. Dale was then the head of the […]

Poorly executed: How Arizona has failed at carrying out the death penalty

By: and - April 24, 2023

It could have been a reception after a funeral: cold cuts, breads and salads set out for the guests. But it was a somber gathering in a conference room at the Central Prison Unit in Florence after the execution of Robert Comer in May 2007, and the buffet was set by the Arizona Department of […]

Juan Martinez

The State of Arizona v. Jodi Arias … and Juan Martinez

By: - March 27, 2020

The case caption said, “State of Arizona v. Jodi Ann Arias,” but it might just as well have said “State of Arizona v. Juan M. Martinez.”

Judge dismisses sexual harassment ethics charges against top MCAO prosecutor

By: - August 24, 2019

“Teflon” Juan Martinez got a temporary reprieve on Friday night when the presiding disciplinary judge of the Arizona Supreme Court threw out a chunk of the pending ethics charges against him that stemmed from allegations of sexual harassment in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Juan Martinez

Judge asked to bar press from ethics hearing for Arias prosecutor accused of sexual misconduct

By: - August 22, 2019

A judge has been asked by attorneys for Juan Martinez and the State Bar of Arizona to limit press coverage of Martinez's ethics hearing, if not bar it outright.


Does Bill Montgomery know enough about justice to be one?

By: - February 28, 2019

He has exactly five years’ experience prosecuting cases — those years are not contiguous — and many of the most serious cases he tried were motor-vehicle offenses.