Man who shot stepson pleads guilty to attempted aggravated assault

File photo of John Johnson/Gila Herald: Richard F. Denton pleaded guilty in Graham County Superior Court to an amended charge of attempted aggravated assault in the shooting death of his son-in-law.

will be sentenced to one and a half years in prison

by John Johnson

SAFORD – Richard F. Denton, 73, will face a year-and-a-half in prison after agreeing to a plea bargain in a case involving the shooting of his son-in-law.

Denton appeared before Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Travis W. Ragland on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to an amended count of dangerous conduct and aggravated assault/attempted domestic violence.

Denton was initially charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and endangerment.

The charges stem from the September 2022 incident in which Denton allegedly shot and killed his son-in-law. The victim was treated at the Mount Graham Regional Medical Center and released.

Denton allegedly admitted to police that he shot his son-in-law because he wanted him out of the house because he was a nuisance. Denton said he kicked the window air conditioner out of the window, entered the bedroom and shot the victim in the arm. Denton said he did not intend to kill the victim, but merely fired to scare him, and that he was actually aiming over the victim’s head.

Photo Contributed/Courtesy: GCSO: Richard Denton, 73, will be sentenced to a year and a half in prison for the shooting of his son-in-law.

A search of the house where the shooting occurred found a loaded black Colt 45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and one in the chamber. A silver Colt semi-automatic pistol. The magazine is loaded and there is one of his in the chamber. And a bloody .38 caliber silver Smith & Wesson revolver. In this revolver he was loaded with five used .38 caliber cases and one chamber completely empty.

Investigators also found two bullet holes in the head pillow of the bed and two more on the mattress. Multiple bullets and bullet fragments were taken from the scene, and a blood sample was taken from a puddle next to the bedroom door.

After the shooting, Denton drove himself to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility, but walked away because the front door was locked. Shortly after, he was detained while walking down 8th Avenue. He also allegedly told his attorney that he had gone to jail to turn himself in and locked the truck to prevent further assaults. “He just didn’t want to hurt anyone,” Denton said.

According to the plea deal, Denton will be sentenced to a year and a half in prison for amended attempted aggravated assault. Upon his release, he will be placed on standard supervised probation on a dangerous conduct charge, the length of which will be determined by the court.

Denton is represented by attorney Dennis McCarthy, and the prosecution is led by Graham County Deputy County Attorney Garrett Cartner.Judge Ragland has set a sentencing hearing for Denton for May 16 at 10:15 a.m.

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