sex-for-pay raised $100 for hitman’s gas money
Phoenix undercover cop posed as “Maryvale gang” hitman
SIERRA VISTA – Court records unsealed last month in the hitman-for-hire conspiracy involving former Cochise County deputy Israel Burkholder indicate his daughter Jasmine raised the cash to get a hitman to Sierra Vista by having sex for money. It has also been revealed that the intended target of the attack – previously referred to in court documents as “M.M.” – was Michael Mays, whose street name is “A-Z”.
According to the documents, Burkholder suspected Mays had “made himself the pimp” of Jasmine, age 23. Investigators with the Sierra Vista Police Department believe Jasmine knew of her father’s plan to have Mays attacked, and despite concerns for her own safety she provided $100 “to get things going.” Detective Thomas Ransford noted in an affidavit that Jasmine obtained the money November 5 by prostituting herself for “a fee of $200” after which she gave half to Mays and the other $100 to her father.
Just the day before, Israel Burkholder told a longtime friend that Mays was mistreating Jasmine. He wanted Mays, age 35, attacked soon because “the longer she is with him she will end up dead.” Burkholder asked the friend – who was previously associated with the Phoenix-based Maryvale Gangster Crips – if she knew anyone willing to “beat down” Mays and leave him “crippled.”
The Burkholders were arrested November 6 after Israel met with a man the friend introduced as a gang member willing to attack Mays.
What Burkholder did notknow was his friend – with whom he had a prior relationship – told authorities about Burkholder’s initial communication and allowed Sierra Vista PD to record several later conversations. He also did not know the hitman was an undercover officer from Phoenix brought in by police.
Affidavitsby Ransford and corporal Damian Barron detail several recorded phone and text conversations between Burkholder and his friend about an attack on Mays.
The price was originally quoted at $1,500 but reduced to $700 when Burkholder confided he was having trouble raising the money. However, it appears the only payment Burkholder delivered to his friend was two wedding rings and the $100 Jasmine raised by having sex. There is no mention of how Burkholder planned to pay for the attack afterward.
Court documents do show there were discussions about the possibility the attack could turn deadly, with the informant asking at one point “what happens if he is dead?” Burkholder reportedly replied he had “no problem” with that outcome. He also purportedly said “the world will be a better place” when the hitman described the plan to “merc” Mays and “remove him from the earth.”
Target of attack has criminal convictions, history of violence
There is no indication in the records that Jasmine knew her father discussed having Mays killed. She is only charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault while Israel Burkholder, age 44, was indicted for conspiracy to commit first degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and various drug charges.
Burkholder was not the only person upset with Mays, according to various police documents. In one of the affidavits Burkholder is noted as being aware Mays had been “beat up several times before.” There is also a report that Mays’ treatment of another woman prompted someone to physically assault Mays days before the Burkholder incident. That attack was unrelated to the planned hitman scheme.
Public records – including aNovember 2011 pre-sentence report– show Mays has his own history of violent actions. The report was prepared by the Cochise County Adult Probation Department after Mayspleaded guilty in October 2011to operating a prostitution enterprise and possession of a dangerous drug. Prior to sentencing Mays had asked to be granted probation and drug treatment rather than being sent to prison.
In the report, deputy probation officer Kristen Brown wrote that Mays’ “history of
violent behavior poses a risk to the community” and that he “has made a habit out of victimizing the community for his own gain.” Brown noted that while Mays’ “desire for drug rehabilitation was understandable” the community was “in need of relief from this defendant’s actions.” She recommended Mays be sentenced to prison, adding “the community will be protected from the defendant during that time.”
Judge James Conlogue agreed, imposing sentences of 2.5 years for the drug charge and 1.5 years for the prostitution charge. Mays served the sentences concurrently (at the same time) and in May 2014 he was released from prison.
Brown’s report also noted Mays had been “convicted of three prior violent offenses” and served two prison terms in New Mexico. He had been released from prison on the second of the sentences -connected to a 2000 arrest for aggravated battery, robbery, and residential burglary- in August 2010.
Multiple attempts to reach Mays for comment about the Burkholder case were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, both Burkholders remain in custody, with Israel housed at the Santa Cruz County jail in Nogales while Jasmine is in the Cochise County jail in Bisbee. The elder Burkholder can be released from jail upon posting $250,000 bail, unchanged despite his recent request for modification of pre-trial release conditions.
Jasmine is being held on a no-bond order due to five pending probation revocation hearings which could result in one or more prison sentences. Her next court appearance will be February 24 before judge Wallace Hoggatt.
A jury trial in the hitman conspiracy is currently scheduled for March 28. Jasmine is being represented in all her cases by court-appointed attorney Peter A. Kelly while Eric Manch has been appointed to represent Israel Burkholder.
Contact reporter Terri Jo Neff at 520-508-3660 and firstname.lastname@example.org
See earlier reports related to this story:
ex-CCSO deputy loses bid for no-bail release pending trial on conspiracy to murder daughter’s abuser[Dec 22, 2016]