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Jury finds aggravating factors in 2005 Yuma murder case

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — A jury on Friday found aggravating factors in the case of an Arizona prisoner convicted of killing six people in Yuma in 2005 that could make him eligible for the death penalty.

Yuma County Superior Court officials say jurors considered six aggravating circumstances — one for each of the two adult victims and the four slain children.

Preston Strong, 50, was found guilty Tuesday of six counts of first-degree murder after a months-long trial.

The case is scheduled to enter its final stage Monday morning with the defense’s presentation of mitigating factors, after which the prosecution presents aggravating factors.

Jurors then will deliberate on whether Strong should be sentenced to death.

If the jury decides against the death penalty, the judge would have two options –sentencing Strong to life in prison without the possibility of parole, or sentencing him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after at least 25 years.

Prosecutors said Strong, who already is serving a life sentence for a separate slaying, spent hours killing 35-year-old Luis Rios, 29-year-old Adrienne Heredia and her four children, ages 6 to 13.

They said Strong suffocated Heredia and three of her children and fatally shot her youngest child and Rios.

Yuma police said the two oldest children were bound and strangled, the 9-year-old girl also had been strangled and the 6-year-old was bound by electric cords.

Strong and Rios had been arguing over money and how much time he had been spending with Rios and her children, according to prosecutors.

Strong is in prison for life in the 2007 killing of Satinder Gill, a Yuma physician who was strangled and bludgeoned in his home. Prosecutors said a large amount of money was stolen.

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