Darren Sharper Gets Nine Years in Prison for Sex Crimes

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Former NFL safety Darren Sharper was sentenced today in Maricopa County to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to two sex crimes.

Sharper was accused of drugging drinks and sexually assaulting two women in a Tempe apartment in late 2013, and this morning pleaded guilty to sexual assault and attempted sexual assault.

Sharper faces similar accusations and charges in several other states.

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"No to Loan Sharks!" in Arizona, Community, Faith Leaders Say

Elizabeth Stuart

A bill that would put an end to a nearly five-year ban on payday lending is languishing in the Arizona Senate after narrowly slipping through the House with a 31-29 vote.

Still, about two dozen legislators, faith leaders, and community activists gathered in a gravel parking lot sandwiched between two auto-title loan offices Friday to protest the proposal.

"I won't believe the bill is dead until they adjourn the session," said Kathy Jorgensen, a member of the board of directors at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, who attended the rally. "It's like zombie land up there at the legislature. You think you've killed something and it comes back."

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Phoenix to Investigate Airport Employee's Involvement with Flight-Path Changes

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Evie Carpenter

An employee with the Phoenix Aviation Department might have known more about the Sky Harbor flight path changes than was originally thought.

In a memo sent to the mayor and City Council members yesterday, City Manager Ed Zuercher wrote that the city was "told that there was no authorization or endorsement of the FAA changes" by the Aviation Department, "and that now appears to be potentially false."

In the past, Aviation Department officials have maintained that only "technical experts" knew "technical details" about the changes, but this new revelation prompted "enough concern to launch an investigation," explains Deborah Ostreicher, spokeswoman for the City Manager's Office.

The question arose during an Aviation Noise and Air Quality Symposium held earlier this month. "An FAA employee made public comments that caused renewed concern regarding the level of Phoenix staff's knowledge about or participation in the FAA's planned flight path changes," the memo states.

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Maricopa County Emergency-Homeless-Shelter Plan for Phoenix Coming Soon

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Miriam Wasser

"The East Lot is going to continue as long as we need it."

That's the message Bruce Liggett, director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department, wants to make loud and clear.

He's aware of the rumor that the Central Arizona Shelter Services, the nonprofit that manages the Men's Overflow Shelter and adjacent East Lot in downtown Phoenix, is abandoning the property soon. But, he and others emphasize, it's just a rumor. "Nobody needs to ring an alarm."

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Arizona House Committee OKs Proposal to Block Federal Gun Laws

Rod Waddington/Flickr

An Arizona House committee passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit state agencies and employees from enforcing any new federal "act, law, order, rule or regulation" restricting gun ownership or ammunition.

Senate Bill 1330 prevents the federal government from forcing Arizona to use resources and manpower to enforce federal laws, said state Senator Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City), who introduced the legislation. It does not, however, block state agencies from "voluntarily" entering into agreements.

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Ryan Giroux's Past Full of Violence and Meth Use

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Court records show that violence and meth use are constants throughout the life of Ryan Giroux, the man accused of shooting six people in Mesa, killing one, on Wednesday.

After an arrest last year, Giroux's probation officer wrote to the court that Giroux "took it upon himself" to get mental-health treatment and started to get the white supremacist tattoos removed from his face.

However, even as recently as last year, Giroux tested positive for meth as part of his probation. Court records show that Giroux, 41, has been using meth and other drugs on-and-off for the majority of his life.

"By the defendant's own admission, he has the propensity to become violent when he is either intoxicated or using illegal drugs," says a report from his probation officer last year. "He has a long arrest history that demonstrates violent behavior."

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White Supremacist Suspected of Shooting Six People in Mesa

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A man with white-supremacist tattoos on his face is the man police believe shot six people in Mesa today, killing one person.

Ryan Giroux, age 41, has been identified as the suspect, and was arrested by Mesa police this afternoon after an hours-long manhunt.

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Multiple People Shot in Mesa

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UPDATE: The suspect has been caught. Click here to read the latest about the suspect, a white supremacist.

Six people were shot in Mesa this morning, killing one person, and police are still searching for the shooter.

Mesa Police Detective Esteban Flores says there were four shooting scenes, starting with the shooting of three people at a motel, the Tri-City Inn.

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Are Arizona Middle School Teachers Fudging Test Scores?

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Natalie Freitas/Flickr
The Arizona Department of Education is throwing out 84 standardized math and reading assessments after an investigation at a Santa Cruz County middle school revealed irregularities in answer patterns.

But the state isn't accusing the kids of cheating. It's pointing at teachers.

An analysis of eraser marks on AIMS tests at Wade Carpenter Middle School showed wrong answers had been corrected three or more times on 23 percent of seventh grade reading evaluations. Eighteen percent of math tests had four or more corrections. By comparison, just .006 percent of children statewide successfully change wrong answers this frequently.

"These numbers are very concerning," said Charles Tack, deputy public information officer at the Arizona Department of Education. "We're talking orders of magnitude beyond what you would expect."

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Arizona Supreme Court Won't Allow Retrial of Debra Milke

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Arizona Supreme Court
Arizona's highest court won't be overturning a decision to prevent putting Debra Milke on trial again for the murder of her 4-year-old son.

Milke spent 23 years on Arizona's death row for the murder of her son Christopher, before finally being released in 2013 after a federal appeals court ruled that the state unconstitutionally withheld information about the key witness in the case.

Although the Maricopa County Attorney's Office intended to again charge Milke, a state court prevented that from happening, saying, "No lesser sanction would rehabilitate the damage done to the integrity of the justice system."

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