Jury to decide fate of Preston Strong, the man accused of commiting a horrific crime

La Mesa Street Murders trial

Closing arguments in La Mesa Street...

YUMA, Ariz. - A jury is deciding the fate of 50-year-old Preston Strong, the man accused of murdering a family of six.

Strong is accused of committing one of the most horrific crimes in Yuma's history.

"The motives go beyond money, there is a hatred in him. There is a rage in him," Prosecutor Karolyn Kaczorowski told the jury at the beginning of closing arguments on Monday.

Prosecutors' last words to the jury were that Strong's greed and jealousy drove him to murdering the family.

"Listen to how Strong talked about Adrienne," Kaczorowski told the jury, "'He's spending too much time with the girl, he's spending too much money on the girl and her kids. 'What does he care? What does he care how Luis spends his money!" Kaczorowski continued, "A really good friend would want to make sure he's not getting taken advantage of, but who's going to take more money from him [Rios] than Strong."

Kaczorowski argued that Strong owed Rios thousands of dollars and wanted to take over the business at the liquor store Rios managed, RC Liquor.

The prosecution also pointed to witness accounts, Strong's DNA found on the steering wheel of the getaway car, Rios' Dodge Durango, as well as his fingerprints found on plastic bags near the victims' bodies as the evidence needed for a guilty verdict.

"...Not one shred of evidence has been presented to you that anybody but Preston Strong had that opportunity with those motives and that information. But most importantly, not one person left a fingerprint on the plastic bags next to Danny," Kaczorowski told the jury.

However, Defense Attorney Ray Hanna told the jury that Strong's fingerprints and DNA on those items don't prove he is guilty.

"A reasonable inference, and that is all that is, is that Preston may have touched them [the plastic bags] visiting the home. Preston may have touched those bags at RC Liquor," Hanna explained,"Preston could have touched them with pure heart and innocence and not a guilty state of mind."

"It's a leap to say that because he had fingerprints on the bag, that he's guilty of murder. That's a leap," Hanna further argued.

Furthermore, the defense points to the testimony of Strong's ex-girlfriend, Adriana Osuna, as one of the strongest indicators of his innocence.

According to prosecutors the murders took place over an extended period of time, of about eight hours. Prosecutors argue the evidence shows, the murderer was at the home by mid-afternoon, on June 24, 2005, and left shortly after 8:29 p.m.

"The timeline the state is referring to is critical in the state's case," Hanna explained, "If you believe the timeline has broken down at any point, their case collapses."

Hanna argues, the state's case collapsed when Osuna took the stand and testified that Strong was home with her at the time of the murders.

"Our big day, the big day really in this case was Ms. Osuna saying,'the best I can tell you is between six and seven, he was at home with me,'" Hanna explained, "Now, if that's true, the timeline collapses and the state is wrong."

Eight women and 4 men were randomly selected, from 17 members left in the jury, to deliberate in the La Mesa Street Murders trial.

In 2005, Luis Rios, 35, his girlfriend Adrienne Heredia, 29, and her four children; Andreas Crawford, 13; Enrique Bedoya, 12; Inez Newman, 9; and Danny Heredia III, 6, were murdered at their home.

"This is probably the biggest decision you will ever make. The wrongful conviction or murder of six people destroys lives. Even the victims have the right to know what happened here," Hanna said. 

"This is the evidence, testimonies, exhibits... and it all points to the fact that Preston Strong was the one and only killer of Luis Rios, Adrienne Heredia and her four children. Find him guilty of doing that," Kaczorowski countered. 

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