Boyfriend of presumed-dead Christine Mustafa found guilty of her murder
PHOENIX – The boyfriend of a Phoenix woman who has been missing for nearly two years was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury, the court announced Tuesday morning.
Robert John Interval was tried on one count of premeditated murder in the presumed 2017 death of Christine Mustafa, 34, but was acquitted by a Maricopa Superior Court jury.
There were audible gasps among courtroom spectators when Interval was acquitted on the first-degree murder charge.
A Maricopa County Superior Court jury reached a verdict Monday.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said after the verdict was announced circumstantial evidence “convinced the jury Interval murdered Mustafa.”
Prosecutors succeeded in tying Interval to Mustafa’s disappearance despite not being able to prove how she died, Lindstrom said.
Sentencing was scheduled June 7. He could face a minimum of 10 years or as many as 25. Middle ground would be 16 years.
A search for Mustafa began after she failed to show up for work May 11. Police conducted a welfare check at her home and later, her family filed a missing person report.
Officers found her car, purse and cellphone at her home near Deer Valley and Cave Creek roads. Investigators also found pillowcases and bedsheets containing a small amount of “possible blood-stained material” during a search of the house.
The search moved to a landfill in the fall. Authorities searched the facility for 12 weeks before stopping in December. Phoenix police said there still was enough evidence to win a conviction.
During the trial, the prosecution said the 39-year-old Interval made incriminating statements in texts, bought mattress covers the day Mustafa went missing and was spotted near a trash transfer facility later that day.
Relatives told police that Mustafafa was afraid of Interval and had planned to leave him.
Court documents said she had told her sisters was going to file an order of protection against Interval.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.