Yuma Man Gets Death Sentence in Triple Homicide

(Phoenix, Ariz. – June 15, 2006) Alvie Copeland Kiles, 45, of Yuma has been sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of Valerie Gunnel. Kiles was also sentenced to four consecutive life sentences for the murders and child abuse of nine-month-old LeCresha Kirkland and five-year-old Shemaeah Gunnel. The sentences were handed down June 13.

Gunnell and her two children were beaten to death with a tire jack in February 1989 in Yuma. Kiles was originally convicted on three counts of first degree murder and two counts of child abuse. His conviction was overturned after the Yuma Superior Court ruled the defendant did not have adequate defense counsel.

In the second trial held in 2000, Kiles was convicted of the same murder and child abuse charges. Kiles was sentenced by a jury as prescribed by new laws implemented following the U.S. Supreme Court decision State v. Ring. The sentencing was also delayed by appeals to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Assistant Attorney General Dave Powell prosecuted this case.