Outside of Jeanna Pignatiello’s residence in Queen Creek, Arizona, a candle flickers beneath a sign bearing the face of Preston Lord. The 16-year-old tragically lost his life after a Halloween party in Pignatiello’s neighborhood, where he was brutally assaulted. In an effort to keep the Lord’s memory alive and advocate for justice, Pignatiello placed the sign as a reminder for all who enter the subdivision to “Light up the night” in the Lord’s honor.
The East Valley community has rallied together to demand action in Lord’s case, organizing walks and demonstrations in his name. The Queen Creek Police Department recently announced that they have submitted charges against seven individuals involved in Lord’s assault. These charges are currently under review by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, bringing a glimmer of hope to Pignatiello and Lord’s family.
Specific details regarding the identities, ages, and charges faced by the individuals involved have not been released by the Queen Creek Police Department. Hector Diaz, an attorney familiar with the case, stated that the potential charges could range from first-degree murder to manslaughter or negligent homicide, depending on the evidence. In addition to assault charges, there may also be allegations of tampering with evidence and aggravated assault.
Diaz emphasized that the individuals at the center of the case are likely aware of the charges being submitted, and their retained attorneys are probably working diligently to gather evidence. Furthermore, if these individuals had been notified earlier, their defense teams would have conducted parallel investigations to determine their clients’ level of culpability and evaluate the accuracy and completeness of the information against them.
The county attorney’s office will scrutinize the case submitted by Queen Creek, aiming for a clear demonstration of probable cause to support the charges. Evidence may be presented to a grand jury, and alleged offenses may be prosecuted. However, Diaz anticipates that it will take some time before the identities of the seven individuals facing charges are disclosed, as the county will thoroughly assess the volume of information provided to ensure a solid presentation to the grand jury or through a direct complaint.
In related cases of attacks on teenagers in the East Valley, the Gilbert police have not yet provided any updates. As the community awaits further developments, attention remains focused on the Lord’s tragic death and the pursuit of justice for him and his family.