PHOENIX, AZ (February 27, 2012) – Henry Eric Young (DOB 11/4/69) is ordered to spend the next two decades in prison for brutally beating and nearly killing 81 year-old Gene Fitzsimmons. Judge Susan Brnovich sentenced Young today to serve 15 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for Aggravated Assault and 21 years for Attempted Murder in the 2nd Degree. He will serve the two terms concurrently.
Mr. Fitzsimmons died nearly three months after the incident from an antibiotic-resistant infection that could not be definitively determined to be related to his injuries.
“This defendant will pay an appropriately severe penalty for his savage and vicious assault against an elderly member of our community,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Today’s outcome underscores the commitment of my office to hold criminals accountable for their actions and to safeguard the public from violent offenders who do not belong in civil society,” he added.
On January 11, 2011, Mesa Police found Gene Fitzsimmons badly beaten and bleeding profusely in the passenger seat of his car in front of a halfway house located near East 1st Avenue and South Horne Street in Mesa. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment of numerous injuries including a broken rib, collapsing lung and brain bleed. Later that evening, detectives found Young wandering in the same neighborhood with blood on his shirt, pants, jacket and shoes. He was arrested and released pending further investigation. Upon his re-arrest eight days later, Young told detectives that he had passed out drunk in the victim’s home on the night of the assault and awoke to find the victim attempting to sexually assault him at gunpoint. He claimed that he performed a sexual act on the victim and then discovered that the victim was not in fact holding an actual gun, at which point he “lost it” and beat the victim up. He went on to recount that he drove the victim to a bank ATM in an attempt to get money out of the victim’s account, and later abandoned the victim in the car.
In August 2011, Young was indicted on one count of Aggravated Assault, a Class 3 Dangerous Felony; and one count of Attempted Murder, a Class 2 Dangerous Felony. During a seven-day trial before Judge Susan Brnovich, Young changed his story dramatically, denying that he hit the victim after the initial beating and falsely claiming that he had demanded an attorney during portions of his videotaped interview that were later redacted. During rebuttal arguments, the State showed that the redacted interview segments involved a discussion of Young’s prior criminal offenses, his telling the victim “you’re getting robbed,” and his intent to purchase illegal drugs from the halfway house. The jury found Young guilty on both counts after deliberating for less than an hour.
Under Arizona’s Truth-in-Sentencing laws, Young will not be eligible for early release until 2029.