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Arizona Inmate on Death Row for Killing 11-Year-Old Boy Now Accused of Murdering Cellmate Imprisoned for Drug Possession

arizona inmate accused of murdering cellmate
Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office; Mega

Jul. 22 2023, Published 2:18 p.m. ET

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An Arizona man already facing the death penalty for the murder of an 11-year-old boy is facing new murder charges after he allegedly killed his cellmate, according to authorities.

On July 12, a Maricopa County grand jury indicted 34-year-old Thomas Desharnais for the murder of his cellmate, Richard Can Sr., The Arizona Republic reported.

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Desharnais and Cano were housed together at the county’s Lower Buckeye jail when Desharnais allegedly strangled Cano to death on Sept. 24, 2022, The Arizona Republic reported.

Desharnais was in jail after he was charged with the long-term abuse and first-degree murder of an 11-year-old boy in January 2022 in Scottsdale, officials said. His wife, Stephanie M. Davis, who was also the boy’s grandmother, was also arrested and charged in connection with the case.

Anthony Ramirez, the attorney representing Cano’s family, said the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office erred by housing Cano, who was in jail for drug possession, with Desharnais, who was facing the death penalty, according to The Arizona Republic.

Cano was murdered in September 2022, but the case wasn’t handed over to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office until April 2023, Ramirez said.

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He claimed there has been a lack of transparency from the Sheriff’s Office in this case and that Cano’s family wasn’t notified of his death until weeks later, The Arizona Republic reported.

Ramirez said his office did receive the incident report of Cano’s death, which laid out how officials found him unconscious and tried to provide medical care. However, he said he is still awaiting a more complete picture from a thorough police investigative report.

Desharnais pleaded not guilty to the new murder charge on July 19, officials said. His next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15.

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