June 17, 2019

Sister of murder victim describes emotional toll of suspects' trials

Robert Curry was one of three victims killed during an armed robber at a Pizza Hut in 1999.

More than 20 years ago, an armed robbery at a Pizza Hut in Tucson resulted in the murders of three employees and led prosecutors to pursue the death penalty in the trials of the two suspects. While both suspects were initially sentenced to death, through appeals and a plea deal, Christopher "Bo" Huerstel received a 25-year sentence and Kajornsak "Tom" Prasertphong got life behind bars.

Kathy Weir followed every step of their trials. Her brother, 44-year-old Robert Curry, was one of the victims and manager of the restaurant. Weir described how the drawn-out legal process shaped her view of the death penalty.

"It pretty much consumed my life for eight years," Weir said. She said she took time away from her business to be in court, which hurt her family financially. "I had always put the business first, and for the first time in my life the business became secondary."

"The loss of losing someone is horrendous. But what the court system can do to you is even worse. Because it all comes down to the rights of the defendant," Weir said. "It's sad the amount of resources that we put in on the back end for these people as opposed to putting it on the front end to prevent these things from happening."

Arizona 360
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