Scottsdale man found guilty of premeditated murder of officer

Salt River Police Officer Jair Cabrera (Photo by CBS 5)

Salt River Police Officer Jair Cabrera, killed by Scottsdale resident Elijah Loren Arthur, Sr. (Photo by CBS 5)

Elijah Loren Arthur, Sr., 34, of Scottsdale, was found guilty by a federal jury of first-degree murder and using a firearm in a crime of violence resulting in death.

The case was tried before U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan from Sept. 1-16, according to a press release. The defendant is being held after trial. Sentencing is set before Judge Logan on Nov. 30.

“The verdict in this case represents the culmination of an intensive investigation following the tragedy that took Officer Cabrera away from his family and his Salt River Police Department colleagues,” stated U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo in the release. “Our office is determined to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who threaten, menace, or harm tribal law enforcement officers.”

“While the outcome of these proceedings does not change the fact a police officer was killed while performing his official duties, it will hopefully bring closure to the family and friends of Officer Jair Cabrera. The FBI remains committed to bringing justice to those responsible for senseless crimes such as these,” stated FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael V. Caputo, in the release.

The evidence at trial showed that on May 24, 2014, Arthur used an AR-15 to shoot and kill Salt River Police Officer Jair Cabrera following a traffic stop on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, the release stated.

The evidence at trial also showed that Arthur’s affiliation with the East Side Bloods gang may have been a motivating factor for the killing. The driver of the vehicle that was stopped, Joey Michael Thomas, 22, of Scottsdale, previously pled guilty to second degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 6, according to the release

“Now that the verdict is in and the case has run its course through the criminal justice system, my department can begin to start the healing process. The verdict will never bring back our beloved fallen comrade but at least we know that the suspect in this case will not be able to do any harm to anyone else. On behalf of the men and women of the Salt River Police Department, and the supportive members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Police Department, we thank the Community for their continual support throughout this process and we especially thank the men and women of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and all of the surrounding agencies that assisted the SRPD with the prosecution of this case. Please keep the parents and significant others of Officer Jair Cabrera in your prayers.” stated Chief Patrick R. Melvin in the release.

A conviction for first degree murder carries a mandatory penalty of life imprisonment, and a conviction for using a firearm in a crime of violence resulting in death carries a consecutive punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both, according to the release.

The investigation in this case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Tracy Van Buskirk and Thomas Simon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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