After listening to two days of testimony, a Gila County jury last week found a Pine man guilty of assaulting a teen with a frying pan after only 17 minutes of deliberation.
Randy Alen Zimmer, 55, faces up to 24 years in prison for beating a 14-year-old boy on the night of Jan. 20, 2011.
In closing arguments, Gila County attorney Elizabeth Maupin played the 911 tape from a woman, who frantically told dispatchers that Zimmer had just “slammed me against the wall, he hit me,” and “my friend’s son is only 14 years old and he beat the snot out of him.”
The woman told dispatchers Zimmer had kicked the teen in the head and hit him so hard with a frying pan that it left dents on the bottom of the pan.
“Is there really a reasonable doubt there after you listen to that 911 call?” Maupin asked the jury.
The jury agreed and found Zimmer guilty on all five counts, including a dangerous crime against children: aggravated assault with a dangerous instrument.
Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill will sentence Zimmer Feb. 7 in a Payson courtroom. He faces 10 to 24 years in prison.
During the trial, the jury heard Zimmer’s ex-girlfriend was moving out of a home she had shared with Zimmer the week of the attack. On Jan. 20, 2011, Zimmer was reportedly upset and had followed the woman and her friends to her daughter’s home in Pine. When the woman opened the door and told Zimmer to leave, he forced his way into the entryway, according to prosecutors. The teen appeared with the pan to defend the woman and his mother from Zimmer, prosecutors said.
However, Zimmer got a hold of the pan and hit the teen, then kicked him when he fell to the ground.
“The attack on the child was the most brutal,” said the county attorney’s office. “When the child came to defend Zimmer’s ex-girlfriend by swinging a frying pan at Zimmer, Zimmer grabbed the frying pan and hit the boy so hard that he fell to the ground.
“Zimmer continued to strike and kick the boy while the boy was cradled on the ground and while the boy’s mother used her whole body to shield her son.
“Zimmer’s use of the frying pan was so forceful that it rendered it inoperable as cookware.”
Zimmer’s attorney, Michael Bernays, claimed the teen had instigated the whole ordeal, texting Zimmer to get him riled up.
Bernays further tried to discredit the county’s case by saying some of the witnesses had used drugs or flip-flopped in their testimony. He insisted the case lacked clear evidence.
“In a lot of ways we know less about what happened that night for sure than before this trial started,” he said. “They want to say that 911 tape is good evidence of what occurred that night, I would submit to you it might be the worst evidence of what occurred that night because you saw how hysterical these people were.”
Maupin disagreed, urging the jury to believe what they heard on the 911 call because no one had time to make up a lie before making that call, known under the law as excited utterance.
Maupin dismissed Bernays’ attempts to discredit the witnesses. “It seems like the entire case of the defense is attacking and belittling the victims in this case — making them sound like drug users and all sorts of things ... but those things don’t matter, it doesn’t matter if you like the victim, these are victims,” she said.
Bryan Chambers co-prosecuted the case with Maupin.
The county attorney’s office thanked Karla Sipes for her “vigilant preparation of the case,” Gila County Sheriff’s Officer Robert Chagolla and Payson emergency room Dr. Michael Paulk.