Five years ago an Arizona prosecutor issued a dire warning:
Jessie Con-Ui was a dangerous man, Maricopa County Assistant District Attorney Ryan Green said, who would likely forever remain a danger to society.
Green had no way to know then, but it appears he was right.
Con-Ui, anxious to earn full membership in New Mexican Mafia gang, had devised a plan to lure a fellow gang member and friend, Carlos Garcia, to a Phoenix laundromat on Aug. 25, 2002. There, two associates ambushed and killed Garcia in a hail of bullets, according to a pre-sentence report Green prepared after Con-Ui’s guilty 2008 plea to first-degree murder.
Now Con-Ui, 36, has allegedly killed again.
Federal authorities have named Con-Ui as the suspect in the brutal beating and stabbing death of guard Eric Williams of Nanticoke at the Federal Correctional Institution at Canaan on Feb. 25, according to court records. No charges have been filed yet, but two attorneys were appointed Monday to represent him in the potential death penalty case.
Con-Ui was at Canaan serving an 11-year prison sentence for a separate, 2003 guilty plea for his role in a wide-scale drug ring run by the New Mexican Mafia. He also had extensive involvement with Arizona state court.
Records from the Maricopa County court system paint Con-Ui as a serial offender willing to do whatever it took to rise within the ranks of the violent Mexican gang, even if it meant killing a friend.
The Mexican Mafia is a “blood in, blood out” organization, Green explained in the pre-sentence report, meaning the only way to gain full membership was to kill another person.
Garcia, also a member of the gang, had made a fatal mistake: He was trying to get out.
“Because Carlos was not contributing and doing the business that the Mafia expected of him, it was decided that his punishment would be death,” Green said.
It was the “in” Con-Ui had been waiting for.
Con-Ui agreed to help two fellow gang members, Manuel Medrano and Johnny Farinas, set up Garcia.
“Since (Con-Ui) was fairly close with Carlos, he used his friendship as a means to trick Carlos into a meeting” at the laundromat, the report says.
As Garcia’s girlfriend washed clothes inside, Con-Ui struck up a conversation to distract him, according to the report. Medrano and Farinas approached from behind. Medrano fired several shots into Garcia, who managed to run away before Farinas caught up with him and fired four rounds into his head.
Con-Ui pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on May 30, 2008 and was later sentenced to life in prison. That sentence was to be served once he completed the federal prison sentence.
The plea deal in the murder case left open the possibility Con-Ui could be paroled after serving 25 years, however. Concerned by that possibility, Green filed the pre-sentence memorandum to ensure the judge, and later, the Arizona parole board, knew of Con-Ui’s past.
In the report, Green noted Con-Ui had previously been twice convicted of theft charges, for which he served 3 1/2 years in prison. While on parole on those charges, he continued to commit crimes as a Mafia member, including participating in a drug ring that resulted in his 2003 federal conviction on drug distribution charges.
Con-Ui also continued commit crimes while he was behind bars, including helping to arrange a drug deal over the phone, with the proceeds distributed to fellow inmates who were members of his gang. Con-Ui pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in connection with that case was sentenced to five years in prison.
Those actions made it clear Con-Ui had no interest in rehabilitation, Green said, leading to his warning:
“When one looks at the destruction and pain that Jessie Con-Ui has left in his wake, it simply wouldn’t seem fair that he should ever again enjoy his freedom,” Green said.
Con-Ui remains incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood, where he was transferred after the attack on Williams.
Federal prosecutors have not said when charges will be filed. It’s expected the case will be brought before a grand jury, which will decide if there is sufficient evidence to issue an indictment.