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Man found guilty of killing 2 people in Mesa

The defendant was found guilty of murdering a man and woman at a Mesa residence in 2022.

MESA, Ariz. — A Valley man has been given two life sentences after he was found guilty of murdering two people in Mesa. 

Aaron A. Thomas was sentenced last week in Maricopa County Superior Court for the deaths of Mottio Paschal, 32, and Makinley Charnoski, 24, on Jan. 28, 2022 in the 1500 block of West 1st Place. 

Prosecutors said Thomas had planned the murders by acquiring a gun, gloves and mask before visiting their East Valley residence. When one of the victims opened the door and turned around, Thomas shot the victim in the back.

As Thomas was leaving with stolen drugs, the second victim started screaming and was shot by the defendant.

“In two minutes, this man killed two people in such a cold-blooded, calculated way, making prison for the rest of his life the right place for him to be,” Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a statement. 

Investigators were able to retrieve the defendant’s DNA from a wall he touched while running from the residence. Surveillance footage additionally placed Thomas at the scene of the crime.

Thomas was found guilty of first-degree murder, burglary and armed robbery. He was given a natural life sentence for each murder offense.

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What is the Valley?:

“The Valley” is what locals call the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is considered the largest metropolitan area in the Southwest. 

The Valley is made up of various major cities other than Phoenix, including:

  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Glendale
  • Surprise
  • Peoria
  • Gilbert
  • El Mirage
  • Avondale
  • Litchfield Park
  • Goodyear
  • Buckeye

Whether a city is in the “East Valley” or “West Valley” depends on where it is in relation to Phoenix.

The cities of the Valley have a combined population of 4,845,832 people, according to the 2020 United States Census. This makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the country right behind the Boston and Atlanta areas.

How big is Maricopa County?

Maricopa County is the United States’ 4th largest county in terms of population with 4,485,414 people, according to the 2020 Census.

The county contains around 63% of Arizona’s population and is 9,224 square miles. That makes the county larger than seven U.S. states (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire).

One of the largest park systems in the nation is also located in Maricopa County. The county has an estimated 120,000 acres of open space parks that includes hundreds of miles of trails, nature centers and campgrounds.

The county’s seat is located in Phoenix, which is also the state capital and the census-designated 5th most populous city in the United States.

The county was named after the Maricopa, or Piipaash, Native American Tribe.

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