Culprits Behind 2020 Arizona Crime Spree and Murders Now Facing Jail Time

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell (R) announced Thursday that three gang members behind a string of violent crimes and murders committed in 2020 have now been sentenced to decades in jail.

“The victims in this case were innocent bystanders who were simply going about their lives when they were targeted by known gang members,” said Mitchell. “Violence, intimidation, or harm against the community will simply not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to the Mesa Police, the gang members include Jaquan Bailey, 20;  Stephon Mitchell, 20; and Vincent Culbreath, 40. The crime spree began in October 2020 and stretched across Maricopa County. Joining the three men was a fourth member, Ashley Herrell, 39. The first incident occurred at a convenience store called “In the Zone” in Mesa, where Culbreath stole two bottles of alcohol while brandishing a handgun.

The group approached Brandon Van around the 1700 W. Bentley area and reportedly asked for directions. As Van walked away, Culbreath attempted to rob him. Van tried to escape, but the gang members pursued and fired shots. They eventually caught up with Van, who was attempting to hide behind a planter. Van then gave up his backpack to the group; however, he was then physically assaulted by Mitchell and shot multiple times by Bailey, ultimately killing him.

After the first murder, the criminals fled the area in their car. The group then stole four tires from outside a Mesa home and proceeded to the town of Guadalupe. There, they attempted another armed robbery, but a woman, Josephine Marquez, intervened, and the group subsequently shot her in the chest and back. She initially survived the injury and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. However, as reported by Phoenix New Times, Marquez would check herself out a week later, allegedly complaining about the care she received. After returning home, she reportedly felt pain, and her wound was still open. She would later die on December 15th, leaving behind her 85-year-old mother and four siblings.

After the Guadelupe incident, the group would make a final stop in Phoenix, where an argument broke out. Shots were fired, and police responded to reports. All four members were then arrested and booked into jail.

Now, two years later, Bailey has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, earning him 40 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). Mitchell will also spend 40 years in the ADC for second-degree murder and armed robbery, considered dangerous felonies. Lastly, Culbreath will face 35.5 years for the same counts at Mitchell.

The spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told The Arizona Sun Times via email that Culbreath was the accomplice/getaway driver during the murder in Mesa, while Bailey and Mitchell actually fired the killing shots. As for Herrell, the spokesperson said Judge Korbin Steiner would sentence her on February 23rd in the Maricopa County Superior Court.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Courtroom” by Carol M. Highsmith.


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