Alan Matthew Champagne of Phoenix, AZ, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday of kidnapping, murder, and two counts of concealing a dead body. The bodies were Brandi Hoffner, age 26, and Philmon Tapaha, age 32. He buried the two in the yard at a house where his mother lived not long prior to when the mummified bodies were discovered by landscapers in March 2013.

In 2011, Hoffner was strangled and Tapaha was mortally shot in Champagne’s apartment. He, then, put them in a plywood box. To help with the decomposition of their bodies, he also poured lime in the box before burying it at his mother’s house, which was a half-mile away.

October 2011, police responded to a tip that the killer was possibly involved in a double-homicide that occurred that summer, according to court records. Officers arrived at the apartment complex and the maintenance man said there was a stench coming from an apartment, which was formerly Champagne’s. He had gone to clean the apartment and noticed the odor.

The maintenance man also told police, according to court documents, that he made a box for the killer. Champagne told him that his mother was going into foreclosure and he needed the box constructed to help her move belongings from her home.

Police smelled reeking flesh in convenience-store bag

Officers had pulled over Champagne and his girlfriend and co-defendant, Elise Garcia, in July 2011.

The car was registered to another person. Though police found Hoffner’s purse, Tapaha’s social security card, a bag of lime, and a bag from a convenience store that smelled of rotting flesh inside the car, they didn’t immediately tie the couple to the murders.

Also in July, Hoffner and Tapaha were reported missing. Investigators found out that Tapaha was the brother of a woman, Phillena Tapaha, who had two children with Champagne.

According to police reports, she told investigators that her brother found out that Champagne was unfaithful to her.

2012 arrest on outstanding assault warrants following standoff against SWAT

March 2012, Champagne and Garcia were arrested following a standoff with a SWAT team at his mother’s house. The bodies of Hoffner and Tapaha were later discovered.

The duo had warrants for assault (unrelated to Hoffner and Tapaha). The couple wouldn’t surrender. It was only after he ran out of ammunition that he ran out of the house and gave himself up to law enforcement for the assault warrant.

After they were in custody, Garcia’s cellmate told law enforcement that Garcia said she was in the apartment when her boyfriend killed a couple of people – later identified as Hoffman and Tapaha, according to court records.

The Arizona Republic reported that court records said Champagne aimed a gun at Hoffman and Tapaha to scare them and shot Tapaha in the head, according to Garcia. She reportedly told her cellmate, as well, that her boyfriend strangled Hoffner.

The new owner of the house, formerly lived in by the killer’s mother, started remodeling and had a landscaper working on the property.

That’s when Hoffner’s and Tapaha’s bodies were discovered.

Sentencing for murders

Garcia is serving a 16-year prison term for her role in the murders. As an adult, she has two prior convictions, both misdemeanors. One conviction is for an alcohol-related incident, the Arizona Republic reported. The other conviction is for assault.

Prosecutors seek the death penalty against Champagne, who has a prior murder conviction. He murdered Ricky Marquez in 1991 while he was at a block party and high on paint fumes, LSD, and alcohol. In 2005, he was released.

The second stage, which is the aggravation stage, of Champagne’s trial is scheduled for June 26. Capital cases in Arizona have to separate proceedings – the first to determine guilt and the second phase is when the prosecutor presents evidence as it relates to the existence of aggravation and mitigating circumstances.