Teen found guilty in corrections officer's Buckeye murder

Reported by: ABC15.com staff

PHOENIX -- A jury has found a Buckeye teen guilty in the carjacking-murder of a 28-year-old Arizona corrections officer.

The verdict against 16-year-old Benjamin Bruce Cannon was returned November 12 after a six day trial, according to the West Valley View.

Cannon and another teen, Felix Vasquez, were indicted last year for the murder of Bradley Gerrard.

Cannon, who is being held without bail, was found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, auto theft and arson, courts records show.

Vasquez, 17, is awaiting trial.

Gerrard was found dead just after midnight on October 18, 2008 in the median of the road at Tartesso Boulevard and Bruner Road in Buckeye. His car was discovered several miles away, partially burned.

Police said it appeared the murder happened when the suspects carjacked Gerrard.

Court paperwork revealed Vasquez sneaked out to meet Cannon at a park near his Buckeye home.

Detectives said Cannon brought a shotgun and told Vasquez they were going to carjack someone so they could go to a party in Goodyear.

Vasquez said he lay down at the intersection of Tartesso and Bruner while Cannon hid behind a pillar.

Documents report that Vasquez said the victim pulled up and saw him lying on the ground.

Vasquez said Gerrrard got out and asked if he was alright.

That's when Vasquez said Cannon came running up and shot him in the chest.

But, Cannon tells a different story, saying he was the one lying in the road, while Vasquez was the shooter.

Police said there is no evidence to indicate that Gerrard was targeted because of his job.

Tracking dogs managed to pick up a scent from the crime scenes that lead them to the murder weapon and eventually the two teenagers, according to police.

"It does bring some relief," said Lt. Danny Coleman, a corrections officer who used to supervise Gerrard. "It's not over though, everyone has to hold their grief every day."

Gerrard's wife, who asked not to be identified, spoke to ABC15 shortly after her husband's death.

"When the doorbell rang, I ran to the door and thought it was him," she said. "When I saw the two officers, I said, 'Is he dead?' They said, 'How did you know?'"

"They got nothing, but they took everything," said the victim's wife. "They took my life, they took my family, they took my love. He meant everything to me."

Gerrard's wife was eight weeks pregnant at the time with the couple's second child. They already have a son.

"He was thrilled," said his wife. "When he got the ultrasound, he framed it and showed everyone at work. He was so excited."

"I don't want anyone else to have their family torn apart like this, to have your soul-mate taken from you," she said.

Gerrard was assigned to the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis. He had been a corrections officer since 2004.

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