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Life Sentence for Repeat Killer Convicted of Murdering Girlfriend in Tempe

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell disclosed on Friday that a repeat offender has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2020 homicide of his girlfriend at a Tempe motel.

Gary Lenall Cox, 60 years old, was given a life sentence for first-degree murder in the “violent” slaying of his girlfriend at the Super 8 motel near Rural Road and Apache Boulevard, as per the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. This incident occurred less than four months after Cox was released from prison for the murder of his wife in 2001, as stated by Mitchell’s office in a press release issued on Friday.

During a wellness check on the afternoon of August 7, 2020, Tempe police discovered the victim’s unclothed body on the motel room floor. Cox’s relative had alerted the authorities after he informed his brother that his girlfriend was deceased and he intended to return to prison.

The Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Cox’s girlfriend had suffered multiple injuries, including chest and neck bruises, approximately 20 rib fractures, and extensive bleeding throughout her brain.

An investigation unveiled that Cox had made efforts to sanitize the crime scene, with empty bleach containers, bloodstains on the sink, tub, and towels in the room. Additionally, there was evidence that Cox had tended to his girlfriend’s wounds.

On February 13 of this year, Cox was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence, as outlined by Mitchell’s office. In conjunction with a life term for first-degree murder, the County Attorney’s Office specified that Cox’s sentencing encompassed:

  • 28 years for kidnapping
  • 4.5 years for tampering with physical evidence
  • 3.5 years for possession or use of a narcotic drug from a separate criminal case

Describing the crimes as “the essence of evil” and emphasizing the threat Cox posed to the community, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell remarked, “He will spend a very long time in prison, which is precisely where he belongs.”

According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the victim was known as a “friendly” individual who interacted with neighbors at the motel before encountering Cox. However, her demeanor drastically altered after Cox entered her life. She became reclusive, seldom leaving her room, while Cox dominated conversations, as per Mitchell’s office.

Cox’s brother noted a black eye on the victim during a video call, despite her not having one when he had visited the couple a few days earlier, prosecutors revealed.

Prior to the tragic incident involving his girlfriend, Cox had been released from prison in April 2020 after serving an 18-year sentence for manslaughter, as confirmed by the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Madeline Nguyen, a breaking news reporter for The Republic, can be contacted at 480-619-0285. Follow her on X.