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Charges dismissed in slaying of Vicari

Citizen Staff



Charges were dismissed yesterday against the man convicted of the 1992 killing and dismemberment of Diana Dawn Vicari.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office decided to dismiss without prejudice the charges against Lemuel Prion. His 1999 death sentence conviction was overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court in August.

Yesterday was the deadline for prosecutors to act on the case.

“Our case has been gutted,” Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall said, so prosecutors had little choice but to dismiss the charges. They now will reopen the investigation and may refile charges.

Prion was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault in January 1999 and sentenced to death in the Vicari case. In the same trial he got 21 years for kidnapping Tabitha Armenta.

In August, the Arizona Supreme Court, in its mandatory review of the death penalty case, found the trial court erred in putting together the cases.

“It’s probably the only decision that makes any sense,” said Debbie Vicari, Diana’s sister. “The prosecutors gave their all in the trial, and now the defense has broken a lot down. In some ways we are back to square one in seeking justice for Diana.”

Vicari’s severed arms were found in a downtown trash bin near East Seventh Street and North Ferro Avenue on Oct. 24, 1992. Her body was never found.

“We need the public’s help, and I’m making the plea that anyone call with information they might have about Prion or any other (potential suspect),” Debbie Vicari said yesterday.

Information may be given to police through 911, the Pima County attorney at 740-5600 or Homicide Survivors at 740-5729.

Prosecutors decided Prion most likely would have been acquitted if prosecuted under the limits set by the August ruling.

“This decision (to dismiss) was not made lightly” LaWall said. “The lives of the family members have literally been devastated, and this will interfere with their ability to heal.”

Since the high court ruling, Prion has been in the Pima County Jail. Now, he will be returned to Utah, where he is serving a 19-year sentence for assaulting his father with the broken leg of a dining room table.

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