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Trial underway in ASU purse-snatching death

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Kyleigh Sousa Kyleigh Sousa
Jose Luis Marquez Jose Luis Marquez

Trial has begun for a valley man who police say is responsible for the death of a 21-year-old ASU student.

It's been more than two years since Kyleigh Sousa died. She was walking down the street when police say Jose Luis Marquez reached out of a car and grabbed her purse.

Sousa held on to her purse and was dragged down the road. She died at the hospital.

The suspect's car was full, and police were able to track down the four passengers.

All of them identified Marquez as the driver and the one who grabbed Kyleigh Sousa's purse.

Kyleigh Sousa was outside a Tempe IHOP just south of the ASU campus with a friend when prosecutors say Marquez leaned out the driver's side window of his rented car, grabbed her purse and sped away.

Kyleigh's friend Franco Hernandez was with her and saw the whole thing. He took the stand Thursday.

"As we were walking into IHOP, this car was coming towards us. Kyleigh had stepped in there momentarily, they started hollering at us, asking us where the party is," he said.

Kyleigh and Franco chatted with the group in the car for maybe a minute. The boys in the car told Kyleigh she was beautiful.

"As we're getting ready to step back into restaurant, the driver had leaped out and grabbed Kyleigh's purse, and started driving, while she was running, with the car, she turned away -- she let go and fell down.

"I had to run up to Kyleigh and she was unconscious. There's blood everywhere. Blood coming out of her mouth. I remember pulling chunks out of her mouth and she started coughing up a lot of blood," testified Franco Hernandez.

"This wasn't a mistake, an accident. This was a robbery. And during that robbery the defendant caused the death of Kyleigh," said Jason Kalish, prosecutor.

For months, investigators could not track down the driver, but nearly 6 months after the crime, they got a tip from one of the four people who were passengers in the car that night.

Dennis Miller was in prison for an unrelated crime and told investigators he wanted to get something off his chest.

"He didn't ask for a lighter sentence, he didn't ask for a benefit and he didn't get one. He said I was in that car and I need to tell someone what happened," said Kalish.

Marquez's defense attorney was quick to point the flaws in the state's case.

"There is no physical evidence linking Jose Luis to these offenses," says defense attorney Carrie Spiller.

She also plans to question why the four passengers in the car point the finger at Marquez.

"The reason there were more than 500 tips is because there was reward money offered in this case. You are allowed to consider the motives of individuals while they are testifying," said Spiller.

Marquez was charged with 1st degree murder and robbery. The trail is expected to last about two weeks.

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