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Murder charge against former Arizona lawmaker caps off downward spiral

May 20, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Murder charge against former Arizona lawmaker caps off downward spiral

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By RACHEL D’ORO, BOB CHRISTIE and JACQUES BILLEAUD
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Shortly before his arrest in an Alaska slaying, a former Arizona state lawmaker and bar owner raised concerns among Facebook friends with a string of messages noting he was looking for work, even odd jobs, followed by cryptic apologies to “everyone for anything” he may have done in office.

“I hope you will forgive me,” he wrote April 5. “My error.”

Weeks later, Mark Desimone was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in a hunting party near Juneau, Alaska, after a day of drinking. He’s being held on $500,000 bail, charged with shooting 34-year-old Duilio Antonio “Tony” Rosales twice in the back of the head Sunday. A motive has not been disclosed.

The former Phoenix businessman, who had lived in Juneau in the 1980s, had been back in Alaska for a month, working as a day laborer. He was essentially homeless this time around, couch-surfing at the home of the owner of a local jewelry store, The Jewel Box, where Desimone worked as a salesman in the summer of 1989.

Rosales worked at the store as a jeweler and designer.

It’s rock bottom for the former Democratic state representative who began a brief career in politics after winning as a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district in 2006.

“What a tragedy,” said Dave Delos, president of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, where Desimone once served as a board member. “I knew Mark at a different time and a different place in his life. And this was very surprising.”

Before his downfall began, Desimone came across as well spoken, clean-cut and driven — or that’s how Delos remembers him.

But even before the end of his first legislative term, Desimone resigned in the summer of 2008 after being arrested in a domestic dispute with his then-wife. The two, who have two children, would divorce soon after. His bar, the Hidden House Cocktail Lounge, also fell by the wayside, the subject of tax delinquency violations. It has since closed, and the Phoenix strip mall location is now a Mexican restaurant.

The file in Desimone’s 2008 divorce case shows he struggled for years with alcohol abuse. His ex-wife complained repeatedly to a court that Desimone had been drinking heavily during his parenting time.

Desimone performed handyman tasks at the Jewel Box, and only met the victim once or twice, according to Rosales’ family friend, Morgan Cruz. Cruz said the store owner had a pattern of inviting employees on hunting trips.

Several messages left at the store by The Associated Press have not been returned. Desimone’s lawyer, assistant Public Defender Timothy Ayer, said Thursday it’s still very early in the case and he had no comment at this time.

Rosales’ survivors include his wife, Maria, and a young daughter in Juneau and another daughter in his native Nicaragua.

Maria Rosales is devastated by her husband’s murder.

“She’s a wreck. She collapsed when she picked out a casket,” Cruz said.

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Associated Press writers Bob Christie in Phoenix and Mark Thiessen in Anchorage and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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