Police confirm arrest in slaying of Phoenix priest

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Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) – A 54-year-old ex-convict has been arrested in the shooting death of a 28-year-old Phoenix priest.

Phoenix police confirmed Gary Moran, a homeless man with an extensive criminal record, was arrested Sunday night and jailed on suspicion of shooting the Rev. Kenneth Walker multiple times at Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church in south Phoenix on Wednesday.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos wrote on the police department’s Twitter feed Monday morning that the arrest had been made.

The 28-year-old Walker was found with several gunshot wounds in the rectory of the church in the area of the Arizona Capitol building. The Rev. Joseph Terra was found severely beaten, but was able to call police immediately after the attack and administer last rites to Walker.

A Mazda SUV stolen from the church was found a few blocks away the night of the crime, police said.

Police did not say what led them to Moran.

Moran was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on one count of first-degree murder during a crime, first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, armed robbery with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, misconduct involving weapons and other charges.

Moran was released from a Tucson prison on parole in April.

Terra was originally hospitalized in critical condition but was moved out of the intensive care unit Saturday night, though he will need time to recuperate. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Moran was sent to the Arizona Department of Corrections prison in Tucson on Feb. 8, 2005, on burglary and assault charges, and was released on supervised parole April 25.

He also has a 1989 conviction for felony burglary, and pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in 2000.

By Steve Stout

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