- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) - A man accused of killing a Maricopa couple and burying their bodies while high on methamphetamine could face the death penalty, Pinal County’s chief prosecutor said Monday.

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles said his office was still in the process of reviewing the case against Jose Ignacio Valenzuela, who is facing murder charges in the deaths of Michael Careccia, 44, and his wife, Tina, 42.

A grand jury indicted Valenzuela on Wednesday on two counts of first-degree murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday. Voyles said he has 60 days after the arraignment to file notice to seek the death penalty.

The couple were reported missing June 22 after Tina Careccia didn’t show up at the construction company where she worked. Family and friends spent a week searching across the desert for them.

Investigators interviewed Valenzuela, 38, and said statements he made led them to search his property. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said authorities unearthed a 6-foot-deep grave containing the couple’s bodies. They also found a .22-caliber revolver believed to be the murder weapon. Valenzuela acknowledged to authorities that he had taken meth before the killings, the sheriff’s office said.

A spokeswoman for the Pinal County attorney’s office said Valenzuela has been assigned a public defender. A message left with the public defender’s office was not immediately returned Monday.

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