A grim 20th anniversary: Triple murder at the El Grande Market

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

A grim 20th anniversary: Triple murder at the El Grande Market

CREATED Jun. 24, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There was an anniversary Sunday but it's not something to celebrate.  As of Sunday, 20 year have passed since one of Tucson's most notorious crimes---the triple homicide at the El Grande market.

Evergreen Cemetery is a place to remember life, and loss; where the dates of a lifespan are engraved in cold stone; and where one of the dates there remembers a night of cold blooded murder 20 years ago."

June 24, 1992 marked the end of three lives at the El Grande Market.  The market has been in Richard Gee's family for generations.  His brother Fred was one of three workers there, shot in the head to leave no witnesses to a robbery. 

He says, "When I first got the phone call and that was through my younger brother when this incident first happened.  I went to my younger brother and I said, hey, stop kidding around.  This is not a funny matter. When he told me the incident, what the problem was, both of us rushed to the market."
      
They learned Fred Gee, his uncle Zewan Huang, and Raymond Arriola were all dead.
       
Police arrested three men, Martin Soto-Fong who had worked at the market, Andre Lamont Minnett and Christopher McCrimmon.
       
Their cases went through a series of mistrials and retrials, because then Chief Prosecutor Ken Peasley used false testimony in the trial.
        
Peasley was disbarred.  The two time state prosecutor of the year worked as a paralegal until he died last year.
         
One retrial ended in a hung jury for McCrimmon.   A judge ruled Minnett could not be tried more than once for the El Grande murders. But they're still in prison, serving to 40 years for a different robbery.

Richard Gee says, "This is not only my feeling but the family's feeling.  The prosecutor did nothing wrong.  In my opinion, they are not the people who killed, my brother, my uncle and a colleague that worked there.  It's the three people that are in jail.  I blame not the prosecutor, I don't blame anybody else except the three people that are in jail."
     
The El Grande market is still open, but with a new name. Richard Gee says someone new is leasing it from the Gee family...so the name is a business decision not an effort to push into the past a night the family will never forget.

Richard Gee says Martin Soto Fong was the mastermind of the robbery and murders but avoided the death penalty because he was two months short of turning 18 when he committed the crimes.
       
He's serving three life terms stacked onto each other---normally 75 years.
 

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