Man who shot stepson pleads guilty to attempted aggravated assault

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Richard F. Denton plead guilty in Graham County Superior Court to an amended charge of attempted aggravated assault in the shooting of his stepson.

Will be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Richard F. Denton, 73, took a plea agreement in the case against him regarding the shooting of his stepson and will be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison. 

Denton appeared in front of Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Travis W. Ragland on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to endangerment and an amended count of attempted aggravated assault/domestic violence. 

Denton was initially charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and endangerment. 

The charges stem from an incident in September 2022 where Denton reportedly shot his stepson. The victim was treated at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center and released. 

During a police interview, Denton allegedly admitted shooting his stepson because he was “a prick and he wanted him out of the house.” Denton described kicking the window-unit AC out of the window and then entering the bedroom and shooting the victim in the arm. Denton allegedly said he wasn’t intentionally trying to kill the victim and that he was just shooting to scare him and was actually aiming over his head.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Richard Denton, 73, is scheduled to be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison in the shooting of his stepson.

A search of the residence the shooting occurred yielded a black Colt .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun with a loaded magazine and one in the chamber; a silver Colt semi-automatic pistol with a loaded magazine and one in the chamber; and a .38 caliber silver Smith & Wesson revolver with blood on it. The revolver had five expended .38-caliber casings loaded with one chamber completely empty. 

Investigators also located two bullet holes in pillows at the head of a bed and two more on top of the mattress. Multiple bullets and bullet fragments were also collected from the scene, as well as a blood sample from a puddle located next to the bedroom door.

After the shooting, Denton drove himself to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility but the front door was locked so he left the area on foot. Soon after he was taken into custody as he walked along 8th Avenue. He also allegedly told a deputy that he had gone to the jail to turn himself in and locked up his truck with the keys in it so he wouldn’t commit further attacks. “I just didn’t want to hurt anyone else,” Denton allegedly said. 

According to his plea agreement, Denton will be sentenced to 1.5 years in prison on the amended count of attempted aggravated assault. Upon his release, he will be placed on standard supervised probation on his endangerment count, with the term of probation to be decided by the court. 

Denton is represented by defense attorney Dennis McCarthy and the prosecution is being handled by Graham County Deputy County Attorney Garet Kartchner. Judge Ragland set Denton’s sentencing hearing for May 16 at 10:15 a.m.