The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld the murder convictions and death sentence of a Phoenix man in the killings of two people whose bodies were later found buried in his mother's backyard.
The court concluded Wednesday that jurors didn't abuse their discretion by sentencing Alan Champagne to death in one of the two 2011 killings for which he was convicted.
Authorities say Champagne fatally shot Philmon Tapaha at his apartment, choked to death Brandi Nicole Hoffner, put their bodies in a box and buried it at his mother's home. The bodies were discovered when a landscaper doing remodeling work at the home after his mother's eviction located the buried box.
Champagne was sentenced to death in the killing of Hoffner and convicted of second-degree murder in Tapaha's death.
The 2011 killings weren't Champagne's first convictions for murder. He previously served 14 years in prison for fatally stabbing a man in 1991 at a block party while high on alcohol, LSD and paint fumes.
Eight months after the killings of Tapaha and Hoffner, Champagne barricaded himself in his mother's home and opened fire on officers who went there to arrest him on an unrelated aggravated assault warrant, police said.
He surrendered after he ran out of ammunition. No one was injured but authorities apparently didn't search the property closely enough to find the bodies buried in the backyard, even though family members had already reported Tapaha and Hoffner missing.
He was sentenced to a 700-year prison sentence in the barricade case.
No clear motive for the killings had emerged, but police say Champagne had been smoking methamphetamine an hour before the killings and was feuding with Tapaha over a relationship.
After Tapaha was shot in the face, Champagne strangled Hoffner with an electrical cable while was she puffing on a glass bong.
Police say his girlfriend, 26-year-old Elise Garcia, was at the apartment during the killings. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison last fall after pleading guilty to murder in Hoffner's death.