Man In And Out Of Prison Last 40 Years Has 2 Weeks To Ask AZ Supreme Court To Review His Case

(Photo by Nathan O'Neal)

A Pima County man who has spent the majority of the last 40 years in and out of state prison has two weeks to petition the Arizona Supreme Court for review of an appellate decision which leaves his life sentence for murder in place.

Danny Louis Musgrove was found guilty at trial for the 2006 shooting death of Michael Tyrone Lopez. His conviction and life sentence have been affirmed several times since then, most recently by the Arizona Court of Appeals on Nov. 15.

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Musgrove is representing himself in the challenge to his conviction, and has until mid-December to petition for review by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Public records show Lopez was killed at his home on Feb. 25, 2006, about one hour after being involved in a fight with Musgrove at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on South Park Ave. Jurors were presented evidence that Musgrove’s DNA was found inside Lopez’s residence and on a bullet recovered from the house.

Over the years, Musgrove has appealed his case and petitioned for post-conviction relief several times. He alleges his conviction was due to the admission of false evidence and perjured testimony. He also said at trial that he was not present was Lopez was killed.

His most recent legal challenge was filed in September 2020 and alleges his trial attorney was ineffective. He also claims the homicide detective gave perjured testimony at trial and that the prosecutor with the Pima County Attorney’s Office committed misconduct.

In May, Musgrove’s trial judge dismissed the most recent post-conviction petition, pointing out that during multiple post-conviction proceedings over the years Musgrove “has failed to allege facts showing that he was diligent in discovering the purported perjury.”

The trial judge also ruled Musgrove had ample opportunity since being convicted to argue about ineffective assistance, but failed to do so in a timely manner.

The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court ruling, according to its Nov. 15 decision authored by Judge Peter Eckerstrom. And as to Musgrove’s assertion that “no reasonable” jury would have convicted him if his trial attorney had impeached the detective’s testimony, Eckerstrom noted the appellate judges rejected that argument, as well as Musgrove’s claim there was “no evidence to support his conviction.”

“We will not disturb that ruling unless the court abused its discretion,” Eckerstrom wrote. “Musgrove has not met his burden of establishing such abuse here.”

Records show Musgrove was first turned over to the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections for six felony convictions from 1982, including armed robbery and kidnapping. He was also ordered to serve time for two aggravated assault charges from 1983.

Musgrove went back to prison for a 2000 incident involving aggravated DUI and fleeing from police. He was then sentenced to life for Lopez’s murder. That sentence includes 4.5 years which Musgrove must serve for two felony endangerment convictions once done with his life sentence.