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Man faces death penalty after allegedly murdering woman on hiking trail

Man faces death penalty after allegedly murdering woman on hiking trail

The incident took place in April 2023

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a man who is accused of murdering a woman on a hiking trail.

Zion Teasley, 22, is accused of stabbing 29-year-old Lauren Heike while traversing a path in Phoenix, Arizona.

The incident took place in April but the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) filed a notice of intent on Friday (29 December) to seek the death penalty for Teasley.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Zion Teasley.
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

According to court documents, the woman was chased before being stabbed 15 times in the back and the chest.

Local news outlet reported that Heike’s body was found near Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard, on the Reach 11 trail.

Teasley was arrested several days after the crime due to his cellphone location data and DNA evidence linking him to the crime, as per the report.

MailOnline reported that police who found Heike previously said she had been ‘chased through or over a barbed wire fence’.

Teasley was arrested five months after he finished a three-year jail sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon, according to court documents.

Lauren Heike’s family said they 'support the decision' made by the MCAO.
Phoenix Police Department

The man - who has a criminal record dating back to 2020 - was taken into custody on May 4 by the Phoenix Police Department after apparently laying low in a nearby apartment complex.

Teasley has previously pleaded not guilty to the homicide of Heike however he was indicted on a first-degree murder charge back in May.

The victim’s parents, Jeff and Lana, have released a statement following the prosecutor’s decision to seek the death penalty.

As per the Attorney’s Office and Fox News Digital, they wrote: “We received word late this afternoon that the MCAO has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Lauren’s murder.

“Our Family supports MCAO’s decision and we are grateful for the work of both MCAO and Phoenix PD.”

The family continued to say that they know the ‘journey’ through the criminal justice system is ‘just beginning’ but they are determined that their daughter ‘receives justice’.

The 22-year-old previously pleaded 'not guilty' to the crime.
Maricopa County Superior Court

“As we make our way through our first Christmas season without Lauren, our hearts continue to break over her life being cut short by the violent actions of another.”

They added: “However, we want Lauren to be remembered for the beautiful and kind person that she was.

“We have hope and find joy in the knowledge that we will someday be reunited with Lauren. We ask for your prayers and for privacy at this time.”

Teasley was previously enlisted in the Marines, ABC15 reports. However, he was only with the Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego for a short period of time.

A Marine Corps spokesperson has confirmed that he did not complete the training.

UNILAD has contacted Maricopa County Attorney's Office for comment.

Featured Image Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/ Maricopa County Superior Court

Topics: Crime, US News, World News