Campos arraigned on Hess shooting case

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Manuel Campos has been given a slew of charges regarding two separate shooting cases more than a year apart.

Also had pretrial conference on recent burglary and robbery case

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Fifteen months after Gary Don Hess was shot at his residence in the 900 block of State Route 366 (Swift Trail), the man who prosecutors believed shot him was arraigned in the case. 

Manuel Ramon Campos, 37, was arraigned in Graham County Superior Court this week on five counts of aggravated assault, three counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon, three counts of endangerment, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person. 

In that case, a shotgun blast went through the victim’s door and hit Hess in the neck. Hess was flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and responded well to treatment. Grainy surveillance video appears to show Campos holding a shotgun toward the residence as it is fired.

The charges were previously dismissed without prejudice, but were refiled recently after Campos was arrested on a new, separate case regarding shooting a shotgun.  

The prosecution is being handled by a special prosecutor from the Cochise County Attorney’s Office, and Campos’ appointed defense counsel is Tucson-based attorney Richard Luff due to all other defense attorneys with Graham County contracts having a conflict in this case.

The second suspect in the Hess shooting case, Robert Lee Lafler, took a plea agreement and was sentenced April 12, 2018, to seven years in prison on a charge of misconduct involving weapons with a four-year probation tail on an amended charge of discharging a firearm at a residential structure.   

Campos has been incarcerated since Jan. 31 after he was arrested regarding an incident that day when he allegedly broke into a woman’s home and threatened her with a shotgun loaded with less-than-lethal ammunition. At the time, he had been wanted since Oct. 31, 2018, regarding a $5,000 cash bench warrant relating to a guilty charge of possession of marijuana.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Manuel Campos is being tried in Graham County Superior Court but the prosecution is from the Cochise County Attorney’s Office.

Campos also had a pretrial conference in the recent weapons case this week and is charged with aggravated assault, two counts of robbery, armed robbery, two counts of burglary, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and two counts of possession of a weapon by a prohibited person. The Cochise County attorney is also prosecuting that case, but, according to online court records, Campos’ appointed defense attorneys are Daisy Flores and Dennis McCarthy.

In the more recent weapons-related case, officers were dispatched to a residence at 3589 W. Main St. regarding a shooting incident and the victim told officers that Campos had broken into her home and threatened her with a shotgun. She said Campos said he was going to shoot her for “what she did to his brother” and then demanded money. When she responded that she didn’t have any money, Campos allegedly fired a shot into the floor next to the victim’s leg. He then reportedly told her “the next one is for you (expletive deleted)” and then ran out the back door.

Campos was found by a Sheriff’s Office deputy near the Thatcher High School bus barn, but the suspect ran hid in the backyard of a residence in the neighborhood off W. Spencer Lane. He was later found hiding underneath a Jacuzzi lid. (See Gila Herald: Police report Campos broke into a residence, threatened the victim with a shotgun and fired a round into the floor – Feb. 7, 2019)

While in jail, Campos was arrested on a new charge March 6 for promoting prison contraband. 

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