The large rock found near Thomas Tucker’s pummeled skull could have been the murder weapon. Or it could have been the sledgehammer deputies noted on the porch.
In either case, Tom Tucker, 58, was found badly beaten Aug. 24, police records say, his body dragged from the base of a porch wheelchair ramp and left facedown in the dirt beneath a large mesquite tree in the trailer’s driveway.
A pair of sunglasses and baseball cap lay along the drag mark pathway.
His face was so severely mangled that a friend on the scene in the 6700 block of West Dogtown Road asked a deputy for a mouth breather to perform CPR.
Although Tom was breathing, barely, when paramedics arrived, he was pronounced dead soon after.
Tom’s son Brandon Tucker, days shy of his 25th birthday the night of the crime, is facing first-degree murder charges in connection with his father’s death.
“He was shaking his arms up in the air triumphantly and his arms were covered in blood,” police records quote one family member describing Brandon after Tom was beaten, “shouting that he killed his old man.”
Brandon refused a request for an interview.
“My opinion Brandon was coming off drugs, or on them, got mad at something Tom said,” said Brandon’s cousin, who wished to be known only as James. “Add 20 years of hatred – and you have a murder.”
The son: Brandon Tucker
“He was a chill person when sober,” James said of his cousin. “Always mad about something though. I was never around him when he did drugs, but I heard he was just crazy.” He named Brandon’s drug of choice as methamphetamine.
Brandon grew up in Apache Junction with two younger brothers, one younger sister – but largely without a father. Tom left his four kids behind with their mother when Brandon was about 6 or 7.
“He didn’t completely abandon them,” James said, “but would come around every few months and later on, every few years.”
Brandon’s first brush with the law was around age 12, James said, and he was “in and out” of juvenile detention facilities ever since. By the time he hit his late teens, Brandon graduated to crimes like fighting and bicycle and car thefts, James said, possibly the only graduating Brandon ever did.
“He was kicked out of high school, I believe,” James notes. “I don’t believe he ever held a regular job. He did mechanic work. He told me he would rebuild people’s engines in his garage back when he was renting a house with friends. He loved working on cars and dirt bikes.”
In addition to 12 traffic violations, Brandon’s court records on the Arizona Judicial Branch website include a small handful of criminal charges, from disorderly conduct to carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, most of which were dismissed.
They also include an order of protection filed against him in 2004 and an ongoing custody battle over one of his children with the child’s mother.
He applied for, and was granted, a marriage license to another woman in 2007, the same year he pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge of assault, reckless endangerment and intent to injure. Although still in his 20s, James said Brandon already has three kids, each with a different woman.
A February 2008 drug charge for possession or use of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia landed him a 1-year sentence in Arizona state prison.
The last time James saw his cousin Brandon was earlier this year when Brandon came to Phoenix to help James’ mother move to Denver.
“He just talked about weird things,” James said, “made strange comments. His brothers said he would act real crazy and thought everyone was against him.”
Despite Brandon’s reported rants, he did smile at a few of James’ jokes and offer him some hope.
“He said he wanted to do good and stay out of prison and had to grow up,” James said. “He talked about changing his life around.”
Several months later, Thomas Tucker laid facedown in the driveway, suffering from internal bleeding and fractures, with a rock beside his skull.
“Guess that wasn’t the case.”
The dad: Thomas Tucker
“Tom hasn’t been the best uncle or human being in the world,” James noted, “but in the last couple years I believe he was changing his life around.”
A lifelong construction manager and supervisor, Tom was up for retirement after a 30-year career. His career included more than just construction-related endeavors.
Like his son, Tom had his own substantial rap sheet, including an order of protection filed against him in 1997 as well as some prison time.
Tom’s 5-month sentence in Arizona state prison was for a December 2009 aggravated DUI. Records say he was released in May.
Other entries at the Arizona Judicial Branch website include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a couple of instances of disorderly conduct, reckless burning, issuing a bad check, arson and criminal damage to property.
A dangerous drug charge for possession of equipment to manufacture is also included, as is a 2002 order to attend a parent education class. James said Tom had four children with Brandon’s mother and another son with a different woman.
Unlike his son’s records, most of Tom’s criminal charges were not dismissed.
Despite his criminal record and leaving his family behind nearly 20 years ago, James said Tom was trying to make up for past wrongs.
“He was finally being more of a father to his own children,” James said, even inviting Brandon to come stay with him at the Dogtown Road residence where he was renting a room from a friend.
“He used and manipulated a lot of his family,” James said of his uncle, “but he’d still be willing to help you build your house, or fix anything you needed.”
Tom was outgoing, and especially enjoyed keeping busy – as well as his alcohol, James said.
The last time James recalls Brandon and Tom together was about a decade ago, when James and Brandon were 15 years old.
“They would bicker,” James recalled. “Tom took Brandon’s truck and left us stranded in Springville and Brandon was pissed.”
He didn’t know if the two ever managed to get along since that incident, nor did he know how Tom felt about Brandon.
“I just know he was trying to help him in the end.”
The reunion, the murder
Once Brandon was released from prison, James said he drifted aimlessly around Apache Junction, where Brandon’s mom still lives, staying with friends and lacking any direction.
Dad Tom invited Brandon to come stay with him in Sahuarita, maybe even help him get a job. Brandon arrived at his dad’s house the day prior to the murder.
Tom was renting a room from a family friend who lived on one of three 5-acre parcels at the end of a 3-mile dirt road, James noted. Tom’s sister and her husband lived on another parcel while Tom’s niece and her husband lived on the third.
The owner of Tom’s rental room was not too keen on Brandon staying at his place – police records say he knew Brandon was trouble – so Brandon was supposed to stay with Tom’s sister, his aunt, instead.
One family member noted in police records Brandon was a “self-proclaimed white supremacist,” complete with shaved head and tattoos. It was no secret he was fresh out of prison.
Tom and Brandon had been drinking beer that evening in front of Tom’s sister’s home, police reports say, when Brandon started getting belligerent. He began insulting family members and friends who were also there.
Brandon was told he had to leave for being disrespectful, so he took off towards the family friend’s house, a short jaunt away.
The family friend told Tom he was concerned about Brandon going to his house with no one else there, so Tom went after him.
After about 15 minutes, Brandon returned. Tom did not.
While one person heard heard Brandon yelling while Tom was talking calmly, and another heard dogs going crazy barking, neither witnessed the beating. No one did.
Tom’s landlord’s girlfriend returned from getting dinner groceries to find “a tall guy with a shaved head” kicking something in her boyfriend’s driveway.
She thought he might be kicking her boyfriend’s dogs. It was instead Tom’s crumpled body.
She backed away. “When the male subject saw her, he approached her with his hand outstretched, covered in blood, and he made a statement something to the effect of, ‘Ha ha! I killed him and he’ll never beat another woman again,’” police records say.
He tried to introduce himself as his father, Tom Tucker, but Tom was the woman’s friend, as well as her boyfriend’s tenant, and she knew the man in front of her was not Tom.
She refused to shake the guy’s bloody hand.
Others were soon on the scene, including the home’s owner with a shotgun telling Brandon to get off his property.
Brandon walked off into the desert, calling Tom a “dirty bastard” and screaming, “That’s for all the times you beat my mama when I was a kid. You won’t beat her no more.”
Deputies found Brandon about a mile away on another man’s property, high atop a 10-foot scissor lift that the man happened to have in his yard.
He did not come quietly, at least not initially, and instead screamed curses and took off his tank top to throw at one of the deputies.
Brandon was especially loud about the police dog on the scene, hollering how he did not want to be tasered or attacked by the dog.
“The suspect began to yell at the top of his lungs at me,” the deputy with K-9 said in the report. “He yelled almost every imaginable obscenity and told me that he was going to rip my dog’s head off. He stated that he was a Marine and that his hands were registered weapons.”
Deputies finally calmed him down enough so he climbed down from the lift, laid on the ground, and acquiesced to the handcuffs.
He spent the ride in the back of the deputy’s car asking for water and admonishing the deputy.
“He made comments about how my rifle, helmet and night vision on my seat were illegal,” the deputy wrote in the report. “He said those should only be in the possession of a trained helicopter pilot and helicopter personnel who were trained in flight and large artillery.”
During the ride to the station, and in subsequent interviews, Brandon denied killing his father. At some points, he even denied knowing anybody at the scene and said his father was not even around.
When a deputy pointed out the altercation was between him and someone who claims to be his father, the police report says Brandon responded with “Yeah, someone does think he’s my father,” and then said the man was, instead, a “punk a- s n- – – -r.”
The report notes, “He went on to say his real father was the sheriff of Pinal County and Maricopa County and to have him come down here and tell him he is causing trouble.”
James says deep resentment – and drugs – seems more likely to be cause for killing rather than the subject of the argument that directly preceded the homicide.
“I heard it was just an argument about cars,” James said. “Whose car was faster, between Brandon’s and another uncle’s. So all told Tom (that) Brandon has to leave because he’s being disrespectful.
“So Tom went after Brandon to talk to him and that’s when Brandon was waiting for him, ready to kill him.”
Original post: Allegedly Killed by Son: Thomas Tucker, 58
Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster whose column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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