Phoenix mother sentenced to consecutive life sentences in the 2021 death of her 2 daughters

  • In US
  • 2022-09-25 14:00:07Z
  • By AZCentral | The Arizona Republic
Trial coverage
Trial coverage  

A Phoenix mother will serve two life sentences after pleading guilty to the September 2021 murder of her two young daughters.

Retta Cruse, 36, pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in July, claiming she drugged her daughters, 4-year-old Royal McIntyre and 9-year-old Aleyah McIntyre, and then tried to commit suicide.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Labianca sentenced Cruse in August to two life sentences, noting that her actions not only took two lives "but has also caused suffering and anguish to the victim's next of kin, which is impossible to measure."

What happened in this case

On Sept. 8, 2021, Michael Coleman, the biological father of Royal, called police when he walked home and saw blood on the walls in the hallway that led to the bedroom. That's when he found the two girls dead on their beds, according to court records. After finding that Cruse had locked herself in her room, he called for help.

Police found Cruse naked and unconscious on her bed with cuts and stab wounds on her body. She was taken to a hospital where staff said she claimed that she and Coleman planned to end her life and her children's lives, according to court records.

Coleman denied having been involved and explained to officers that Cruse began to feel depressed after she lost a New Jersey custody battle of her oldest daughter.


The family had moved to Arizona a couple of years before and had lived on the streets. They had found an apartment and were looking toward buying a home, Coleman said in court records.

Coleman felt Cruse's sentence was fair because it would also allow for her other children to visit her if they ever choose to.

Why we're reporting on this

This reporting follows a crime The Republic began to cover in 2021 and is part of our commitment to tell the story from start to finish.

Reach crime reporter Miguel Torres at or on Twitter @TheMiguelTorres.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Judge hands down life sentences to Phoenix mother in death of daughters


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